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Questions You Want Answered > Child Custody and Support > What is the usual custody arrangement?

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There really is no such thing as a "usual" custody arrangement.  If two parents agree to a schedule that they believe is in the best interest of their children, a court will not change it.  If the court is asked to decide custody, the "usual" custody arrangement varies with the judge.  Some judges believe that the children should live with one parent primarily and with the other on alternating weekends; others believe that the children should live equally with each parent; still others believe in something in between.  Unfortunately, parents won't usually know which judge they have until the day of trial, so it is in most parents' best interests to work out custody between themselves.

Some of the things that parents should consider when deciding custody is how well their children do with change and transitions ; equal custody requires more transitions than primary custody with one parent.  The parents should also consider how far away from each other they live; the farther apart they live, the harder it is to share custody.  When deciding when the children should be with each parent, stability and predictability is really important for children:  changing houses on the same day each week, at the same time, reduces anxiety for the children.  Likewise, parents should consider what custody arrangements their work schedules really dictate.  What the children want is really only a small consideration; parents are the adults who have the ability to reason and decide what's best for their children, even if it's not what the children want.

Last updated on April 6, 2011 by Karen Robbins, Attorney at Law