If you are facing a divorce or dissolution proceeding for the first time, you may be unfamiliar with the different child custody options available to you: legal vs. physical custody, held jointly or solely.

Ideally, custody options can be resolved amicably. That seems to be the prediction for the recent divorce filing by Courteney Cox Arquette and her husband, David Arquette, on the ground of irreconcilable differences. The couple is seeking joint child custody of their 8-year-old daughter. They were married 12 years.

Even for amicable joint custody arrangements, however, a family law court in Michigan will likely require a detailed parenting plan. For this reason, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney to advise you of your available custody options. An attorney can help you understand when joint custody is appropriate and when you should seek sole custody.

Without an attorney’s help, your analysis might be limited to present circumstances or overlook important factors. An attorney will review with you all of the factors that a court might consider in determining the arrangements best suited to your child. A typical parenting plan considers the medical, educational, religious and other special needs of the child. A court may also apply a far-reaching eye in accounting for a child’s support, possibly examining which parent’s property and debt division settlements are best structured to provide for the child’s college tuition.

Many family law courts also recognize that a child’s sense of identity and well-being is fostered by many sources. For that reason, a court will likely attempt to preserve any significant relationships that a child currently has with his or her parents and relatives.

An attorney can also help you to put arrangements in place that promote a healthy parent-child relationship with both custodial and noncustodial parents, and that allow both parents a meaningful opportunity to participate in the growth and development of their child.

Source: Huffington Post, “Courteney Cox Divorce: Actress Moves To Drop Ex-Husband David Arquette’s Last Name,” June 14, 2012