There are several types of child custody. Joint custody is where both parents share parental rights and the living arrangements of their child. Courts generally prefer joint custody, but sole custody, where only one parent or guardian has the physical and legal custody over a child, is a possible arrangement as well. Physical custody refers to sharing a home with a child and handling his or her day-to-day care. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions on your child's behalf, including those related to health care, religion, and education.
In most states, family courts determine child custody arrangements based on what is in the best interests of the child. To decide custody questions, the courts look at a number of factors, including parents' desire and ability to care for the child, the emotional bond between the child and both parents, the adjustment needed if the child has to move to a new area, and, if old enough, the child's wishes. Frequently, parents or other adults who have raised a child will be required by the court to take part in mediation.
Child Custody Problems
Sometimes issues arise where a parent keeps a child when it's not his or her turn to care for the child. Occasionally, a parent claims a child on their taxes after it had already been established that the other parent would claim the child. When these problems arise, a child custody modification may be needed.