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What Are the 4 Different Types of Child Custody?

mother with child

Part of going through a divorce is familiarizing yourself with new legal terminology. This includes differentiating between the four different types of child custody. Knowing which type of custody is best for you and your children, will help you navigate your divorce case with ease.

Child custody is a general, overarching term which covers everything related to the welfare and upbringing of a child. This covers parental rights, obligations, and much more.

Legal custody

The parent who is granted legal custody of their child is the individual responsible for making important decisions for the child, including but not limited to:

  • Healthcare
  • Education (which schools the children will attend)
  • Religion
  • General welfare (what extracurricular activities they will participate in)

Sole legal custody means one parent alone has this right. This type of custody works where one parent is absent or deemed unfit to parent. Joint legal custody means both parents share these decision-making rights and must cooperate to determine what they consider is in the best interest of their child. It is in joint legal custody arrangements where parents typically disagree.

Physical custody

Physical custody refers to where the child will reside, or which house the child will stay at and when. Often in this scenario, the other parent will have the right to visitation. Physical custody can be either sole or jointly shared.

Sole custody

Sole custody is where the child will live with one parent exclusively. This parent has both legal and physical custody of the child. The courts typically avoid this type of agreement when possible as having both parents in a child’s life is important and considered in the best interest of a child. This custody arrangement may only be a fit if one parent is deemed unfit or it is impossible for both parents to parent together.

Joint custody

Joint custody is where both parents participate together to raise their child. They may either have legal custody or physical custody or both. Joint physical custody works best when both parents live near one another. The court often awards joint legal custody, which is where both parents are given the decision-making power to raise their child.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Joint Custody

The biggest advantage of joint custody is that it keeps both parents involved in the child’s life. In this scenario everyone wins. Joint custody gives the responsibility of raising a child on both parents instead of having one parent do it alone.

On the negative side, it may be hard to continue to see your ex-spouse. Also, having to share time with your ex-spouse could be stressful and time-consuming for both parents and the child.

For additional questions about child custody, contact our firm online or call us at (949) 577-7935.