Child custody is the term legal used to define the relationship between a child and their parents or legal guardians. It’s mainly used within the context of divorce and separation to describe how both parents should care for and visit with their children.

There are a few custody arrangements, so it is helpful for parents dealing with custody issues to understand the options that may be available to them. Each type carries different implications, so getting it right is critical to the success of the relationship you share with your child and your ex.

No matter what your family’s structure is, deciding upon a child custody arrangement that acts in the best interest of your child is a critical first step toward living life under the new norm.

Here are the four types of child custody arrangements:

  1. Legal Custody: Legal custody describes the basis of parental rights and responsibilities. It is the clearest form of child custody from a legal standpoint, since it usually involves the rights given to all parents regardless of arrangement type. Every parent has legal custody, whether they have sole or joint custody.
  2. Physical Custody: Physical custody is a term reserved for parents who provide daily care and support to the child. It is also referred to as residential custody, which essentially describes who the child will live with. A physical custody arrangement can be joint or sole custody.
  3.  Sole Custody: With sole custody, the courts assign the responsibility and care of a child to a single parent. The parent who has sole custody is sometimes referred to as the custodial parent, while the parent who only has visitation rights is called the non-custodial parent. The sole custody arrangement is common because it gives the non-custodial parent the opportunity to still visit with their children, without disrupting the consistency of schooling and home life needed for a child to thrive.
  4. Joint Custody: Sometimes called shared custody or shared parenting, joint custody is when the child’s full-time living arrangements are divided between parents using a method of percentage. For instance, a court may award a joint custody agreement using a 50-50 split. However, the actual rate used varies according to what is in the best interests of the child. Joint custody arrangements are more challenging in terms of a court ruling. There is a ton of consideration on behalf of the family court judge assigned to your case. It’s possible that receiving joint custody might not even be on the table if he or she feels that it is not conducive to your child’s well-being.

When it comes down to it, the priority should be providing for and protecting your children. If you are concerned about child custody issues as a married or unmarried person, you have options. More than anything, you have rights that deserve to be protected.

When you hire a licensed Arizona family law attorney at Shaffer Family Law, you can have the peace-of-mind in knowing that you are doing your best at giving you and your family the best chance at moving forward in life.

At Shaffer Family Law, we know how hard it can get when it comes to navigating the difficulties that surround child custody issues. You can schedule a meeting with our team by calling (480) 470-3030 today!

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