Murrieta Family Law Firm Temecula Divorce Attorney
Experience, Expertise, Excellence

Explaining the Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements

Definition of Child Custody

In California, the term “child custody” refers to the legal process of determining which parent will care for a child. This involves physical care and making important decisions for a child.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements

Sole Custody

One parent has exclusive rights to care for and make decisions for the child without the other parent’s involvement.

Joint Custody

Both parents share responsibilities and decision-making authority for the upbringing and well-being of their children.

Split Custody

Split child custody, also known as divided or alternating custody, refers to an arrangement where the children divide their time living with each parent. This form of custody allows for shared responsibilities and parenting time.

Physical Custody vs Legal Custody

When it comes to child custody arrangements, there are two main types: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives and spends their time. If the child switches between homes, even for only a few weekends a year, then the parents technically have joint physical custody.

Legal custody pertains to decision-making power regarding the child's upbringing and well-being. This includes their education, healthcare, and more.

These two types of custody can be awarded jointly or solely, and there are myriad combinations parents can negotiate. For instance, one parent could have educational authority while the other manages healthcare. They could also share the responsibilities equally. The possibilities are almost limitless.

Shared Parenting

Under this arrangement, both parents have equal time with the child, splitting expenses and decision-making responsibilities.

Shared parenting is a great option for couples who want each parent to have an active role in their child's life, despite their separation.

Some studies have suggested that children who receive equal parenting have better social, academic, and emotional outcomes.

Shared parenting requires a high level of cooperation and communication between both parents to work. If parents have a contentious relationship, this is probably not the best option for them.

The Best Interests of the Child

The primary factor in any custody case is the child’s well-being. Parents should put their needs aside and solely focus on what is best for the kids.

Important considerations in determining your child’s best interests include:

  • The child's age
  • The child's educational needs
  • Their relationship with each parent
  • Both the child’s and the parent’s healthcare concerns
  • Any special needs or circumstances that require additional support
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child's physical and emotional needs
  • The child’s wishes, provided they are mature enough to make such decisions

Common Challenges with Child Custody Arrangements

  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Schooling decisions
  • Mental health problems
  • Medical treatment decisions
  • Disagreements over parenting styles
  • The logistics of shared custody, such as drop-off and pick-up times, transportation arrangements, and location changes

For those facing these challenges, it's important to seek support from trusted advisors and legal professionals. Singleton Smith Law Offices, Inc. can help spouses mediate and create better solutions for their children and themselves.

To meet with our legal professionals, you can schedule time with us online. You can also reach us now by calling (951) 779-1610.