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There are several types of custody arrangements:

A) Joint-legal custody

In this arrangement, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities regarding issues such as the child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing. It’s by far the best type of custody arrangement, but works only if the parents are able to communicate with one another and take each other’s opinions/desires into consideration. Many states favor joint-legal custody; a few actually limit it and require both parents to sign a consent form issuing joint custody.

B) Parenting plans

Many states have abandoned standard custody definitions and instead opt to decide custody issues through parenting plans. This is where couples sit down together and work out an arrangement regarding important aspects of how the child will be raised. Though these plans don’t generally use the terms “custody” or “visitation,” they do outline each person’s “parenting time,” which can include everything from supervised visits to full custody.

C) Primary custody

Primary custody means that a parent is issued the bulk of the responsibilities in raising the child. It usually means one parent has the child during the week and the other takes them for a day or two on the weekend or every other weekend, or perhaps during the summer or another specified time. It does not, however, exclude the other parent from decisions involving the child. It only means that one parent has agreed to be the primary caretaker.

D) Sole custody

Sole custody means a parent is granted exclusive rights and responsibilities in raising the child and making decisions regarding their upbringing. However, sole-custody arrangements usually include visitation rights for the other parent.

E) Visitation

Parental visitation rights are issued when the other parent has either primary or sole custody, and will usually outline specific times and days when the parent is to have time with the child.

F) Supervised visitation

Supervised visitation is issued when one parent is deemed to be a potential threat, or when allegations of abuse or neglect are being investigated or have been confirmed. Such visits take place under the supervision of a court appointed mediator (usually a social worker or child psychologist).

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