Parents in Illinois who are getting a divorce need to understand the different options available for child custody arrangements. Custody may refer to legal custody, which is a parent’s right to make decisions about aspects of his or her child’s life, such as health and education. It also addresses physical custody, which refers to where the child lives. Both types of custody may be joint or sole.

Some of the less common approaches to child custody include split and serial custody. In the former situation, siblings are split up with one or more living with one parent and the others going with the other one. However, this separation can be hard for children who are already dealing with the disruption of divorce. Serial custody involves a child living with one parent for several years and then going to live with the other parent.

A common joint custody arrangement is one in which a child may spend alternating weeks with one parent or several days per week with one parent and several with the other. An alternative is bird’s nest custody. This allows children to remain in the home while the parents alternate living there. Finally, in cases where both parents are considered unfit, third-party custody may mean that another relative gets custody of the children.

The best situation for children is one in which the parents are able to resolve conflict instead of having to go through litigation and a child custody battle. Mediation may help parents come to an agreement about custody, and it also provides both parties with the opportunity to design an arrangement for custody and visitation that works best for them and their children. However, it does require cooperation on both sides, and if one person is unwilling to cooperate, then going before a judge may be the only option.