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The Different Types of Child Custody, Explained

American marriages have about a 50% survival rate, which means the other half end in divorce.

While divorce can be stressful, it can be even worse when children are involved. No parent wants to put their children through a messy child custody case. Family law battles can be even more painful than the divorce itself.

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you want custody of your child. However, there are many types of child custody.

Before you end up in family court, learn more about the types of child custody in the guide below, brought to you by Kirkland Family Law.

Legal Custody

Who is allowed to make major life decisions on behalf of the child? This is where legal custody comes in.

This is a common type of custody, and oftentimes, legal custody will be shared jointly. This allows both parents to make decisions for the child, like for their schooling, medical treatment, or religious upbringing.

Unfortunately, unless you have a flawless relationship with your ex-spouse, conflicts can arise from joint child custody. Parents don’t always agree on how a child should be raised. Joint legal custody can get expensive when you need local attorneys to step in and resolve disputes.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is exactly what it sounds like – it determines who the child will live with.

Again, this type of child custody can be allowed jointly. That means the child will spend time in each household. It is important to note that joint physical custody does not always mean each parent will have the child exactly 50% of the time.

In fact, having joint physical custody does not necessarily mean you will have joint legal custody. One parent may have the child live with them half-time or part-time, but not be allowed to make major life decisions for the child.

Sole Custody

This type of custody is also self-explanatory. Only one parent in the “custodian,” granted full custody of the child, while the only parent may only have visitation rights. In this case, only one parent has legal and physical custody.

This method may be less disruptive than shuttling a child between two households, but family court does not prefer it. In sole custody cases, one parent has extremely limited contact with the child, which can negatively affect their development. Of course, in dangerous cases, this method may be necessary.

Bird’s Nest Custody

Bird’s nest custody is the most unusual and least common form of custody. It involves the child staying in the home, with the parents moving in and out.

Of course, both parents must have another place to stay when they are not in the child’s home. Although it sounds complicated, this arrangement is the most stable for the child.

Help with Child Custody Cases

Understanding the types of child custody is essential to winning your custody case. It will help you articulate what you need from your lawyer, which helps them achieve the result you want.

Custody cases are no walk in the park. You need experienced family lawyers in your corner. If you’ve got questions, use our Law Directory to find someone with answers.

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