Child custody is always based on what is in the best interests of the child but it can be useful for parents concerned about child custody to take a closer look at the different child custody options available. Child custody and what is best can look different for different families and children.
Types of child custody – It is generally agreed that time with both parents is preferable whenever possible. The two types of child custody arrangements include:
- Joint custody refers to when the child alternates between living with both parents and both parents share responsibility for important decisions for the child. Making important decisions for the child, such as medical, education and health-related, refers to legal custody of the child.
- Sole custody refers to when the child lives with one parent and has visitation with the parent unless there is a safety reason why the child should not have visitation with the other parent.
Child custody determinations are based on several factors with the goal of determining what is in the best interests of the child.
Child custody factors include:
- The child’s interactions with parents and siblings;
- The stability of the home environment;
- The fitness of the parents to parent the child;
- The employment responsibilities of the parents;
- Any history of abuse; and
- The preference of the child if the child is 12 years or older.
Parents are encouraged to work together on a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of their child and works best for their family. The family law court is able to help serve as a resource for child custody concerns and disputes and can step in if the parents are unable to agree to a child custody arrangement that is best for the child. Both parents and the family law court should be guided by what is in the best interests of the child when determining child custody and it helps to know how that is decided.