Child custody is a part of many divorces, of course for divorcing couples who have children. It can be helpful to understand the different types of child custody arrangements and how child custody may be awarded, though parents are always encouraged to work out a child custody arrangement that is best for their child and works for the family whenever possible.

Child custody in California is determined based on what is in the best interests of the child. There are different types of child custody arrangements that may be considered best for the child. Parents may share custody of the child or one parent may have primary custody of the child and the other parent will commonly be granted visitation of the child. Child custody can be either joint custody or sole custody of the child.

When discussing child custody, there are two types of child custody being referred to. Legal and physical custody of the child must both be determined. Physical custody refers to which parent the child primarily resides with. Legal custody refers to which parent makes important decisions for the child. Both types can be jointly awarded or solely awarded to one parent. The types of decisions the parent with legal custody of the child, or if it is shared by both parents, will make include those related to school and child care; religious upbringing; medical care including any mental health needs of the child; summer and extracurricular activities; travel; and the residence where the child resides.

The family law court makes the final determination concerning the child custody arrangement but the parents can agree on a child custody arrangement which is typically encouraged. Parents can benefit from understanding the different types of child custody and planning ahead to address child custody needs during their divorce process.