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Child custody: When parents decide

When two spouses have children together -- and they're in the process of getting a divorce -- the preferable way to resolve child custody decisions is out of court. Court proceedings take a long time, they're costly and they're often stressful. Conversely, parents can stay in control of the outcome of their child custody arrangements by negotiating together and coming to a decision on their own.

When working out your child custody plans, you'll first need to decide what kind of legal custody both parents will have. Usually, parents will choose "joint legal custody," which gives both parents the ability to have a say in important decisions about their children. Joint custody doesn't refer to who the child will live with, but who has decision-making power of the child's affairs.

After deciding the type of legal custody, you'll need to decide physical custody. There is virtually an unlimited number of ways that parents can organize who their children will live with and when. Sometimes, one parent will have full physical custody -- meaning the child will live full-time with one parent and visit with the other parent.

Other times, the parents will have split physical custody. Maybe the child will live with one parent three days a week and the other parent four days. Or, it could be a rotating schedule to ensure that both parents spend the same amount of time living with the child.

A Maryland family law attorney can be a valuable asset in navigating your child custody arrangements. Your lawyer can advise you of your legal rights and options, and how a family court judge would likely decide your case. With this information, you can then negotiate a fair settlement that honors the rights of both parents and the best interests of your children.

Source: FindLaw, "Custody Considerations: Step-By-Step," accessed Oct. 01, 2017

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