Child custody is often referred to as guardianship. This is simple a term that refers to the parent who has physical custody of a child or children, and makes all the decisions relating to their care and welfare.
At one time, when the issue of where a child would be and with which parent was being discussed legally, the courts used terms such as custody or access. The latest terms are now that the child will have contact with a parent or reside with a parent. Most often the issue of where a child should live, and with whom, is the result of a divorce or an annulment.
Generally speaking, in most U.S. jurisdictions, the issue of where a child will live is decided in the best interests of the child. These types of disputes are often very bitter, and many parents find it hard to cooperate to settle a dispute and determine where the children will live and visit and when. Many use children as their scapegoat, meaning issues such as emotional abuse, sabotage, and brainwashing may arise.
Another new term being used in place of child custody is parenting schedule and not visitation and custody. This is intended to erase the line between custodial and non-custodial parents and to help create timetables that help the kids.