So much of the public’s knowledge of divorce (and the law in general) is drawn from depictions in popular culture, but most of these depictions are very inaccurate. In the case of divorce, the term ‘custody’ is often thought to be a very black-and-white one, with one parent gaining custody of the children while the other parent must fight and struggle for even basic contact with their children.
This perception is outdated and was never accurate in the first place. In general there are two forms of custody: Legal custody, which is when a parent has legal rights and responsibilities pertaining to their children, and physical custody, which describes the time a parent actually spends with their children. Custody in both these forms may be shared or solely invested in one spouse.
In the modern day, however, even these basic definitions are no longer wholly accurate. Divorce has moved on from the days when the courts would determine custody and other issues in an imperial way. Today most parents engaged in the divorce process work with their attorneys to create detailed parenting plans that handle custody issues and spell out the precise responsibilities and rights of each parent. The courts are extremely happy to accept reasonable, well-drafted plans and incorporate them into divorce orders.
The key is to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney assisting with the preparation of such agreements, to ensure that they are written in a way the court will accept and approve. This allows both spouses to have a say in how the children will be raised, and to ensure that the best interests of the children are determined by people who are closest to them and know them best: Their parents.