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Understanding child custody options

For many parents who are involved in divorce proceedings, child custody decisions may seem simple. Whether they want full custody or just want to work out something in the child's best interest, many parents don't realize the complexity of possible child custody options.

One of the first things parents should understand is the difference between legal custody and physical custody. Even if a child doesn't live with you, you can retain rights as a parent through legal custody. That means you are still involved in major decisions that impact your child's life.

Physical custody arrangements detail when, where and how the child resides with each parent. Common scenarios include a 50/50 split or time spent on the weekends with one parent, but physical custody arrangements are as varied as families are. When parents work unique shifts or live far away from each other, custody arrangements can be made that work around such situations. Parents who are able to work together in the best interest of a child are usually more likely to end up with arrangements that are satisfactory for both parties.

Not every divorce or custody situation is amicable, however, which is one reason to have an experienced advocate on your side. Our child custody page provides some information about custody options and what is involved when a Guardian ad Litem is part of a case. Even if a Guardian ad Litem is representing the child's interests, parental interests and rights should not go unprotected. In many cases, individuals let courts decide matters without assistance, which can result in situations that are not satisfactory to the parent or the child.

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