Child custody and legal guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the child to make decisions , and the parent’s duty to care for the child.

Forms of custody:

  • Alternating custody is an arrangement whereby the child/children live for an extended period of time with one parent and an alternate amount of time with the other parent. While the child/children are with the parent, that parent retains sole authority and responsibility over the child/children. This type of arrangement is also referred to as Divided custody.
  • Shared custody is an arrangement whereby the child/children live for an extended period of time with one parent, and then for a similar amount of time with the other parent. Opposite to alternating custody, both parents retain authority over the child/children.
  • Bird’s nest custody is an arrangement whereby the parents go back and forth from a residence in which the child/children reside, placing the burden of upheaval and movement on the parents rather than the child/children.
  • Joint custody is an arrangement whereby both parents have legal custody and/or physical custody.
  • Sole custody is an arrangement whereby only one parent has physical and legal custody of the child/children.
  • Split custody is an arrangement whereby one parent has full-time custody over some children, and the other parent has full custody over the other children.
  • Third-party custody is an arrangement whereby the children do not remain with either biological parent, and are placed under the custody of a third person.