Not all parents are happy couples, but that does not mean that your child cannot benefit from the love of both parents. At the same time, when parents are separated or divorced and both parents want to be a central part of their child's life, it can result in drawn-out disputes over custody and parenting time. If they cannot reach an agreement, either alone or with assistance from an attorney or mediator, the matter may go to court.
As is explained here, there are a number of different configurations custody arrangements can take. Which one a court selects may depend to some degree on the family situation and the wishes of the parents. However, generally, at the heart of any child custody dispute is the well-being of the child. When a custody decision falls to a court, the court will generally endeavor to establish an arrangement that is in the child's best interests.
Quite often, the child will be placed into the physical custody of just one parent. This means that they will spend the majority of their time living with that parent. However, courts do sometimes instead opt to put a joint physical custody arrangement in place, in which parents share the physical custody of a child.
In some cases, split physical custody is an option. This is when one or more children are placed into the custody of one parent, while the rest of the children are placed into the custody of the other. However, this is not the usual preference of courts when it comes to custody orders.
The other major aspect of custody, legal custody, is often shared between both parents. A shared legal custody arrangement enables both parents to have a say in important matters such as the child's health care, religion and education.
The standards dictating what constitutes a child's best interests vary from one state to the next and every case is different. An attorney may be able to help you as you work to get a custody arrangement in place that benefits both you and your child.