Understanding the Different Types of Child Custody That Exist Today
When you had your child or children, you probably never imagined a scenario where you might be arguing for your right to parent them and spend time with them.
The truth is that sometimes adults find that it is no longer in the best interest of the kids to stay together. It becomes necessary for everyone involved to separate, divorce, or dissolve the relationship. Except when you have children together, that isn’t really possible.
You have to entertain the different types of child custody and consider which will work for your kids and your situation.
When you have children together, you need to figure out how to share your children, choose a parent who can best parent them, and figure out how to make decisions on behalf of the children.
Read on to learn about the different types of child custody you might consider and how they work.
Table of Contents
Legal custody, as the name suggests, means the legal custodial parent is the one who makes decisions for the child. This means the parent has the right to make all legal decisions on behalf of the child.
If there are health-related decisions that need to be made for the child, the parent with legal custody gets to make those decisions. Any related upbringing issues are made by the legal custodial parent.
Legal custody means that the parent will make decisions about the child’s education like where they will attend school and all related decisions. Religious decisions are also left in the care of the legal parent.
A judge can choose to have parents share legal custody. This is called joint legal custody. In this scenario, the parents would be left to make any of these legal decisions together. More on joint custody in a minute.
Physical custody is the type of custody most parents are familiar with. As the name suggests, it is where the child will physically live. Physical custody’s granted to the parent who the child will spend the most time with.
Typically, then the other parent gets visitation rights. More on visitation shortly.
It used to be that the mother was more favored in physical custody situations. That is not true anymore. Fathers are now granted regular physical custody too. A fathers’ rights attorney has played a large role in this shift.
Fathers have as much ability as mothers to care physically for a child.
In some cases, joint physical custody is awarded to both parents when the child spends large amounts of time with both parents.
Sole custody means that one parent’s granted sole rights. This can apply to either legal custody or physical custody.
If a parent has sole legal custody, they are responsible for making any of those welfare-related decisions without the input of the other parent. If a parent has sole physical custody, the child lives with the parent full time.
Often sole custody is awarded when one parent demonstrates it is not in the child’s best interest to be under their care. If the parent is struggling with drugs or alcohol. The parent may not have the financial resources to appropriately raise a child.
If one parent becomes involved with a new partner who is unsafe or unsuitable for the child to be around. Then sole custody might be awarded to the other parent.
Sole custody doesn’t always mean that the parent without it has no access to the child. One parent, for example, could have sole physical custody and the other parent gets visitation rights.
Joint custody suggests that the parents share responsibilities jointly or together.
In the case of joint legal custody, the parents share the decision making responsibilities together. They must make those legal decisions together on behalf of the child.
In the case of joint physical custody, the child spends equal amounts of time between both parents.
Parents can be awarded both joint physical custody or joint legal custody. When parents share the physical custody of a child, it is pretty much expected they will also share the legal custody of the child. However, just because parents have joint legal custody does not mean they have joint physical custody.
In today’s world, custody might stretch beyond the biological parents. There are a number of scenarios where a court might consider adding grandparents into a custody arrangement.
In the simplest sense, the court will consider what is best for the child. If the child has a relationship with the grandparents and it’s in their best interest to remain a part of their life, sometimes courts will award custody to grandparents.
If the parents are not alive or unable to care for the child appropriately then the grandparents might award custody. It might be such that the one or both of the parents agree that having the grandparent involved will benefit the child and custody can be arranged for the grandparent.
Factors for Visitation
When making decisions about custody and visitation, the courts use the term “best interest of the child.” This means they will look at all the factors and consider what are the best interests of the child and how can the custody and visitation be set up to meet those needs.
If a parent isn’t awarded custody, they may be awarded visitation. There are a number of factors considered when deciding on the visitation agreement. These might include:
- Age of the child
- Child’s health
- Emotional connections between the child and the parent
- One or both of the parent’s ability to care for the child
- History of family violence or abuse
- Parents history with drugs or alcohol
The court will also consider the connections the child has to the community and school too.
Understanding Types of Child Custody
Working through a custody arrangement is fraught with emotion and challenges. This is especially true if you have a particularly fractured relationship with the other parent.
As you consider the types of child custody you might agree to it’s important to remember what is best for your child.What agreement is in the best interest of the child?
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