Navigating the process of determining a custody agreement for your children can feel like a rollercoaster. The agreement you decide on with your former partner is used as a guide for custody and other important factors related to your children. A big part of the stress surrounding this process is the fact that there are so many unknowns. If you have not been through this process before, you may not know important definitions that will help you articulate what you want in terms of custody. Understanding the different types of child custody will help you navigate the process and ensure that you advocate for what you want and what is best for your children. The two primary types of custody are legal custody and physical custody. Both types can be narrowed further depending on the way the custody is split between parents.
Legal custody is typically shared between both parents and is called joint legal custody. The law gives both parents equal rights to legal custody. However, there are times when one parent is awarded sole legal custody. If one parent is absent from the child’s life, has a violent criminal history, or has been found to be unfit, that parent may have legal custody removed. What does it mean to have legal custody? A person with legal custody of a child has the right to make decisions about that child’s care. These decisions include factors such as schooling, medical care, and religious affiliation.
Physical custody can be split between parents in a variety of ways. This type of custody is related to where the child spends his or her time. Parents who have joint physical custody each have time when the child is physically in their care. This can be a 50/50 split where both parents have equal time or possibly a schedule that includes weekends and summers. The design of the physical custody split can be tailored to each family. Parents can come to a physical custody agreement on their own, get the help of a mediator, or go through court to have a judge help with the process. If you are seeking sole physical custody, you will need to have a custody lawyer to help you navigate the process of showing that it is in the best interest of your child. Understanding the different types of custody will help you determine what type of custody you should seek. Learning more about custody and the overall process can also make the entire process easier. It can help you feel confident as you go into a situation that can be intimidating. An experienced child custody lawyer can talk to you in-depth about the different types of custody and help you every step of the way. Reach out to Warnock Family Law to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation.