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Knowing and understanding child custody arrangments

When spouses choose to end a marriage, one of the biggest concerns is the custody of their children. Although custody laws vary from state to state, all child custody laws were put in place to protect and meet the needs of children. In Arizona, custody laws have been updated to better meet the needs of children. All parents would benefit by knowing the different types of custody.

Legally, there are two main types of child custody: physical and legal. However, many alternative custody types exist. The two types of custody that most people are familiar with are sole and joint custody. In sole custody, one parent has legal and physical custody. Joint custody can sometimes mean equal custody, but in other cases children may spend more time with one parent who is considered to have primary physical custody.

A type of joint custody that provides more stability for children is called bird's nest custody. In this type of agreement, the children stay in the house while each parent moves in and out. Alternating custody is also a popular option where parents alternate time with children, such as one week with the father and the next week with the mother. Sometimes, one parent may have primary custody for a number of years, then transfer that custody over to the other parent. This is called serial custody.

If none of these custody options are suitable, some parents agree to customize an arrangement that best suits the needs of their children. Unfortunately, some parents fail to educate themselves or don't understand child custody laws in their state. Arizona parents that have questions regarding child custody should seek the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney. Discussions with an experienced legal representative could benefit both parents and children.

Source:, "Ask Mr. Dad: Child custody 101", Armin Brott, Jan. 27, 2018

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