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If you share parenting responsibilities with your child’s other parent, you know that it takes a team effort to do so effectively. Whether you are going through a divorce or have always been separated, you may need to make a change to your child custody arrangement. So, what can one expect when looking at the child custody process? The answer is that it’s different for every family.

When looking at different custody arrangements, it’s important to understand that there are two different types of child custody, physical custody and legal custody. A parent may be granted one, both or neither of the types. Physical custody has to do with the actual residence of the child, and where they spend most of their time. Legal custody decisions deal with bigger picture ideas, such as those concerning the education or religious upbringing of the child.

Finding a solution that is ideal for your family is most important. That decision will be based heavily on whatever fits the best interests of the child, although, other factors are considered. Joint custody is an ideal situation in which parents share child custody responsibilities and rights fairly equally. This is a good option if both parents are a positive impact on the child’s life.

However, not all situations are appropriate for a joint custody arrangement. Understanding what works best will involve communication by the parents and, if necessary, explaining a certain position you have to a family law judge or arbitrator. In some cases, mediation can help parents come to an agreement with a minimum of enmity.

In the end, the best interests of the child are the most important factors in any child custody decision. Compared to going to court, settling a child custody dispute through mediation or another form of out-of-court negotiation is often less expensive and less likely to lead to lasting resentment, and other negative emotions that can adversely affect the child.