As you deal with your unique family dynamics, surely the most important thing on your mind is your children. Fighting about custody and visitation is so difficult, yet the decision is so important. As you and your family consider what life will look like in your next stage, begin by looking at the different types of child custody available.
There are four main types of custody: physical, legal, sole and joint custody. Here, we explain the basics of each to help you decide which is best for your family.
Physical custody is likely what you first think of when you approach the subject. This term describes the right to have the child be with you in person and live with you.
Legal custody is the right to make certain decisions about the child. This can include medical decisions, education, religion and general lifestyle.
Sole custody means that one party is given charge of the child. This can apply to both legal and physical custody, or only one. It is often used in situations when one parent is not fit to care for the child. Still, there may be visitation rights granted to the non-custodial parent.
Joint custody is when more than one parties have the right to share custody of their child. This could mean sharing legal, physical or both types of custody. In joint legal custody, both parties must work together to make decisions concerning the child. In joint physical custody, children will often move between and live in both homes or the child can stay in one home and the parents move in and out according to the custody schedule.
Joint custody often comes with a parenting agreement, though they can also be used in other custody situations. This document will help determine schedules, rules and other topics the parents or guardians would like to address.
As you begin to understand the different types of custody available to you, it’s important to talk with your attorney to figure out which is best for your family and how to pursue it.