Usher, the well-known singer, and his ex-wife are going through a divorce. The couple has two children over whom they share joint custody.

Last year, this blog reported that Usher's ex-wife contested the couple's custody agreement and asked a Georgia court to award her sole custody of the children. At a recent hearing, rather than modifying the child custody agreement, the judge ordered the couple to try to resolve their child custody dispute via mediation. If the couple cannot reach an agreement, the judge has indicated an intention to issue a temporary order.

As Usher and his ex-wife mediate their custody arrangement, they will have to decide who will have physical and legal custody of their children.

Physical custody is typically given to the parent with whom the child will spend the majority of his or her time. The non-custodial parent, on the other hand, usually will receive visitation rights.

In contrast, legal custody concerns the ability to make decisions regarding important aspects of a child's life, including regarding education, religion and health care.

Perhaps the most common arrangement is for one parent to have physical custody, but both parents to share legal custody. However, some parents prefer other alternatives.

For example, some parents may choose to share custody, known as joint custody. Under this type of plan, the child moves from home to home at regular intervals. Proponents suggest it softens the negative emotions that can come with divorce. Opponents argue that it is better for the child to have the continuity of having just one home.

Because this approach requires significant cooperation between the parents, courts are reluctant to issue joint custody orders in cases where there isn't clear agreement between the parents

Usher and his ex-wife could elect split custody. In this model Usher would have custody of one child and his ex-wife custody of the other. Courts, however, prefer not to split up siblings if at all possible.

If Usher and his ex-wife cannot agree on a custody plan, the court will decide for them. In making that determination, the court takes into consideration a variety of factors. However, the most important factor is the best interest of the child.

Source: azcentral.com, "Usher, ex-wife Tameka ordered to reach custody agreement," May 1, 2012