Types of Child Custody Options: A Guide for Divorcing Parents

What are the different child custody options that are available to divorcing or separating parents? This will depend on the state where they live and the specific situation of their child. Generally, there are five types available: physical, legal, sole, joint, and bird’s nest custody. Also important to understand is temporary custody.

Temporary Custody

This refers to a short-term arrangement that enables parents to ensure that their child is well taken care of while the final decision is being awaited. As with other types, temporary custody allows the custodial parent to make decisions about everything that involves the child. The person given this type of custody of a child may decide on the child’s schooling, healthcare and welfare.

Rules and guidelines involving temporary custody vary from state to state. Typically, a relative such as a grandparent or one of the parents will seek temporary custody of a child. It is usually granted once both parents have been informed and have been given the chance to respond to the petition (unless both parents are unable to care properly for the child). In addition, every state has specific requirements for this. It pays to understand the process of filing for temporary custody in your state because it may become permanent in many cases. The temporary rulings of the judge are crucial to the final decisions involving the support, visitation and custody of the child.

Physical Custody

With this option, you have the right to have your child physically live with you. In some states, joint physical custody of a child is allowed. In that case, you and the child’s other parent have equal amounts of time with the child. This is a good option since it allows you and your ex-partner to spend a maximum amount of time with your child. However, this will work only if you and the other parent live near each other. To prevent conflict from affecting your child, it is of utmost importance that you and the other parent have a cordial and workable relationship always centering on the best interests of the child.

Legal Custody

This custody option gives you the right and responsibility to decide about the upbringing of your child. It means you can decide for your child in terms of healthcare, schooling and religious upbringing. Most states allow parents to have joint legal custody of their children so both parents can make decisions involving the child. The only problem with this is that conflicts and misunderstandings may arise when the upbringing principles of parents clash. This conflict can be detrimental to the child.

Sole Custody

As the term suggests, this option gives custodial rights to only one parent while the other parent’s rights are limited only to visiting the child. This arrangement is used when the child may be harmed or may not be safe in one parent’s home. Among all types of child custody, sole custody may seem to be the least disruptive to the child. However, children who do not understand or have the capacity to reason why the other parent is not as much a part of their lives as before may suffer hidden psychological and emotional problems. Children can very easily blame themselves for the absence of the other parent. Because of the very limited interaction of one of the parents with the child, this type of custody may lead to conflict between the parents as well.

Joint Custody

This arrangement is used when parents agree to share decision-making rights over their child’s upbringing. Usually, parents agree to coordinate their schedules so that joint custody will work. Sometimes, a court orders the parents to share custody. Joint custody of a child may be joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or both.

Children of divorcing parents benefit from joint custody because they are guaranteed continuous involvement and contact with both parents. This type of custody also lessens the burden of child rearing on each parent. However, it can be a disadvantage because children have to be moved often from one parent’s house to another parent’s house and this setup can be costly as well.

Bird’s Nest Custody

In this type of child custody, the child still lives in the family home while the parents take turns moving in and out. Although this arrangement is not as disruptive for the child, it can cause problems for parents, particularly in decision-making. This will work only if parents have other places to live during off days.

Make sure that you understand all the different types of custody that are available and be prepared to explain your preference for the one you choose. The emotional and psychological consequences for your children should always be at the forefront of your decision.



Source by Harriet M Adams

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