By far the most popular custodial arrangement after a divorce is joint custody. However, this was not always the case in the past. It used to be far more common for the mother to end up with sole custody of the children after a divorce. 
 
The switch to joint custody is mostly because children appear to benefit from having both parents actively involved in their lives, even if the parents are no longer married. According to FindLaw, in joint custody both parents tend to share legal and physical guardianship of the child, while with sole custody one parent has these rights and the other does not. 
 
How is joint custody different from visitation? 
 
In a typical joint custody situation, the child will live with both parents on a more or less equal basis. Generally, the parents live within a close distance of each other to make this easier. Joint custody is unique because both parents retain legal physical guardianship of the child. 

On the other hand, sole custody with visitation is very different. In this arrangement, the child will primarily live with the parent who holds custody, and may or may not visit with the other parent sporadically. The non-custodial parent does not have as many rights as the custodial parent does concerning the child’s living situation. 
 
Can I get sole custody of my child? 

In the modern era, it is very rare for a sole custody decision to occur. Again, the family law court tries to make decisions that are beneficial for the child, and general research shows that joint custody benefits children most of the time. However, in the event that one parent is suffering from addiction or potentially has problems with domestic violence, sole custody is a more common decision.