Arizona parents who are getting a divorce may need to make child custody decisions. This includes deciding whether they will ask for joint or sole legal and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions about certain aspects of a child’s life such as religion, education and health care. Physical custody determines which parent the child lives with.
Joint physical custody may not mean that a child spends exactly the same amount of time with each parent. Parents may make an arrangement in which the child spends certain days of the week with each of them or the child may stay with each parent for longer periods. With serial custody, a child may spend several years with one parent and then the next few years with the other. The problem with this arrangement is that the child may struggle to form a strong relationship with the noncustodial parent.
Bird’s nest custody involves the parents taking turns living in the family home while the children live there full-time. In split custody, siblings may be split up between the two parents although this can be upsetting to children who are already dealing with the instability of divorce. If the child is not considered to be safe with either parent, there may be a third-party custody arrangement in which the child lives with other relatives.
Parents may be able to create a custody arrangement that suits their particular situation. For example, if one parent is away on military deployment, serial custody might be an arrangement that allows that parent to eventually bond with the child once the deployment is over. Parents in a high-conflict divorce who nevertheless want their children to spend time with both of them may use an alternating arrangement but might need to choose a neutral location for dropoffs and pickups.