Child custody matters are usually of primary importance to parents during divorce. For that reason, it is helpful for divorcing parents to be familiar with the different parts of how a child custody arrangement is determined.
There are different components of child custody that must be resolved during the divorce process. Legal and physical custody of the child must be determined. Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions for the child including the child’s medical care, education and religious upbringing.
Physical custody is another component of child custody that must be determined. Physical custody refers to the parent that physically cares for the child. Physical custody commonly refers to who the child lives with and where the child lives.
Legal and physical custody can be either joint custody, or shared between the parents, or sole custody. Sole physically custody of a child typically means that the child lives with one parent and the other parent has visitation. Joint physical custody typically means that the child lives with both parents, sharing time. Sole legal custody typically means that one parent makes important decisions for the child without having to consult the other parent; joint legal custody means the parents must work together when making decisions for the child.
The family law process can help divorcing parents determine what child custody arrangement is best for their child. There is tremendous value in understanding the family law tools that can help divorcing parents with their child custody agreement.