If you have children, they are probably the most important part of your life. Your children are your pride and joy and you would do anything to make them happy. If you and your children’s other parent are not together, you may be wondering how to navigate a custody situation. You want to do your best to give your children the best life, but figuring out what type of custody arrangement to have in order to achieve this can be difficult.
There are a few different legal terms involved in custody. Legal, physical, sole and joint custody are arrangements you will have to consider. But what do these each mean?
Physical and legal custody
Physical custody is the more obvious form of child custody as it deals with where your children live. If you have physical custody of your children, they will stay with you. You can have joint or sole physical custody of your children.
Legal custody, on the other hand has to do with the decisions made in your child’s life. It has to do with who has the authority to decide where your children goes to school, how they handle their health and upbringing and even what religion your children will practice. Legal custody can also be awarded in joint or sole form.
Joint physical custody generally means your child’s time is split between each parent and is usually awarded when the parents plan to live relatively close to each other. Many couples also elect to share legal custody, so both parents can play a role in making the decisions about their child’s life.
If you decide on joint custody, you will have to come up with an arrangement with your child’s other parent, so you both know what the terms are. In many cases, parents decide to rotate weeks or months for physical custody. You will also have to decide how you make other decisions, such as health care and education.
If you request sole legal custody of your children that means only you are allowed to make decisions for your children. You can also be awarded sole physical custody of your child. Sole physical custody means the child will reside with you, however, the other parent can be awarded visitation such as hourly or even weekend time, depending on how the arrangement is decided. Sole custody is most often awarded when it is evident one parent is incapable of caring for the child physically, financially or mentally.
Custody is a complicated concept and there are many variables to consider. In these cases, you will likely want to make sure your children are and healthy in whatever arrangement you come to. While deciding on a custody arrangement can be difficult, it can be done while preserving your children’s wellbeing.