When one of the parents is given sole custody of the child, family lawyers suggest visitation rights for the other parent. Visitation is the legal term for rights of the parent who does not have custody of the children. This parent is given visitation rights that is the right to visit the children or have them stay over at his or her place overnight or for a few days during vacation. These arrangements also form a part of child custody.
An arrangement under which the child lives for a certain period with one parent, and then with the other parent for the same amount of time, is known as alternating custody. The parent with whom the child is currently living is said to have sole custody at that time.
Living alternately with both parents can be taxing for the child. It may also not be practically possible if both parents live far away from one another. In such cases the court may order that the child lives with one parent up to a certain age or for a given number of years and then live with the other parent. This is called split custody.
The court may decide that one parent is incapable of caring for the child in which case the family lawyers may ask for sole custody also termed sole physical custody. In this case the parent who is deemed capable of caring for the child gets exclusive rights and responsibilities regarding the child.