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Types of child custody arrangements to consider in divorce

When parents separate or divorce, they must reach a child custody agreement. This legal document determines how children will spend their time with each parent.

Families can create a custody plan that best suits the child’s needs and the parents’ preferences.

Joint custody

In a joint custody arrangement, both parents share the physical and legal custody of the child. The child spends significant time with both parents. Both participate in important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.

Split custody

Families may split custody between parents when they have multiple children. For instance, one parent may have custody of the older child while the other parent has custody of the younger child. This arrangement is less common as it can be emotionally challenging for children.

Bird’s nest custody

In this unique arrangement, the child remains in one home and the parents take turns living with the child. This minimizes disruption for the child by maintaining a stable environment.

Parallel parenting

Parallel parenting may be an option when parents have a contentious relationship. Each parent makes decisions for the child during their respective parenting time. They have limited communication with one another.

50/50 custody

Also known as equal time-sharing, 50/50 custody means the child spends half their time with each parent. They may switch homes each week, for example, if the parents live close to each other. While it provides the child with a balance of both parents, they must have a strong, cooperative relationship.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 30% of American children have separated or divorced parents. Choosing the right time-sharing arrangement can help your child adjust to this common situation.