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Child Custody Facts: Types of Arrangements & Determining Factors

If you are in need of legal counsel to assist you with your child custody case, talk to a family lawyer.

Call 877-421-3761 to talk to a local family law attorney.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements

There are four main types of custody arrangements U.S. courts typically award parents in divorce.

Physical Custody

This means having physical custody involves control over the living arrangements of your child.

Some states will award joint physical custody to both parents when it is established that the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents.

Legal Custody

If you have legal custody of a child that means that you have the right to make a decision about the child’s upbringing.

If you have legal custody, you can make decisions, for example, concerning a child’s schooling, religion and medical care.

Sole Custody

This form of custody involves one parent having the responsibility for the care and raising of a child.

Most states are moving away from awarding sole custody to one parent and toward enlarging the role of the non-custodial parent.

In this type of situation, one parent would be the primary physical caretaker and the other parent would have visitation rights.

Joint Custody

Parents who have joint custody will share the decision-making responsibilities for, and/or physical control and custody of, their children.

Joint custody can exist if the parents are divorced, separated, or no longer cohabiting, or even if they never lived together.

Factors That Courts Consider When Awarding Child Custody

When making decisions concerning the custody of a child, courts may consider the following:

  • The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child
  • The parents’ willingness to accept custody
  • Any history of unwillingness to allow child visitation not based on substantiated abuse
  • The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings
  • The history of domestic violence, if any
  • The safety of the child
  • The safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other party
  • The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision
  • The needs of the child
  • The stability of the home environment offered
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The fitness of the parents
  • The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities
  • The age and number of the children
Looking to find out what kind of child support you may have to pay? Click here for information on child support.

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