You may have some general idea of what child custody is, but you may not know all the different types of child custody that parents and guardians can have.
Below, we provide an overview of physical, legal, sole, and joint custody arrangements.
Sole Physical Custody
If a parent has been granted sole physical custody of a child by a court, this means that the parent has the right to have the child live with him or her. With sole custody, the child will live primarily with the custodial parent while the other parent only has limited visitation or custody rights. Sole physical custody is usually awarded when one parent is shown to be unfit such as due to financial, drug, or alcohol problems.
Joint Physical Custody
Sometimes, a court may make a joint physical custody award where the child will stay with both the mother and the father for significant periods of time. With joint physical custody, the parents will usually draw up a custodial agreement to be ratified by a judge. The arrangement will determine what days or weeks a child will stay with each parent.
Having legal custody means that the parent has the legal authority to make decisions about the child’s education, health, and upbringing. The parent with legal custody of a child will have the authority to decide which school to send the child to, which religion the child will practice, and what sorts of medical care the child will receive. If joint legal custody is awarded, both parents will cooperate and make joint decisions about the child’s upbringing. Joint legal custody is often awarded even if one parent has sole physical custody.
These are the basic types of child custody. But you should remember that child custody arrangements are very fact-specific and are based on the best interests of the child. To help find the best custodial arrangement for you, you may want to speak with a family law attorney.
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