An Overview of the Types of Child Custody
There are several different kinds of child custody, and when you go into a divorce case, you need to be clear with any family divorce lawyers you’re working with about what form of custody you’re seeking.
What is Physical Custody?
Physical custody gives a parent the right to have the child live with them. If a child lives with one parent, usually that parent will be given primary physical custody and the other parent may be given visitation rights.
There are several states that will grant parents joint physical custody if parents live fairly close to one another and the child spends a more-or-less equal time with both of them.
The decision often depends on which arrangement will maintain a child’s normal routine once the divorce is finalized.
What is Legal Custody?
Legal custody determines which parent is obligated to make major decisions about how a child will be raised. This includes religion, schooling, medical care, and other important factors in a child’s upbringing.
Many states require parents to share joint legal custody so that both parents can have a say in a child’s upbringing. If one parent cuts another out of major decisions in this setup, the jilted parent can bring the offending parent back to court and cause expensive and stressful legal headaches for the whole family.
Parents who are worried that it will be impossible to share legal custody can campaign for sole legal custody, but it may take the most experienced child custody attorneys to make the case, since most states prefer joint legal custody.
What is Sole Custody?
Sole custody puts both forms of custody in the hands of one parent. It’s often awarded in cases of abuse or when one parent is somehow deemed unfit to raise children. Most states prefer to avoid sole custody rulings and aim to keep both parents involved. Many child custody attorneys will also advise against pursuing sole custody unless the other parent causes direct harm to the children involved in the case.
What is Joint Custody?
Joint custody splits legal and physical custody between the two involved parents, and is usually used for couples with children that never lived together or are no longer living together, regardless of whether a divorce has been finalized.
Parents usually work out a schedule of when children stay with each parent according to the needs of the children. Often children split weeks, months or weekends between both parents’ residences.
Child custody attorneys have experience with each arrangement and can help you decide which is best for your family.