What Are the Different Types of Child Custody?

If you and your spouse decide to divorce or separate, the court will make decisions regarding custody depending on state laws as well as your particular situation. There are many different types of child custody, and you may have concerns about what is the right custody arrangement for your child. A child custody attorney can help. Call the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks to learn more.

Physical Custody

Having physical custody of a child means that you have the right to live with that child. Often, states grant joint physical custody if the child spends a significant portion of time with both parents. Typically, if both parents live close to each other, joint physical custody serves well. Living close together will lessen the stress on the child in order to allow them to maintain a normal routine.

In cases where a child primarily lives with one parent, that custodial parent will retain sole physical custody, while the other parent will only have visitation rights.

Legal Custody

Having legal custody of a child means holding the right to make important life decisions for the child. These life decisions can include choice in the child’s schooling, medical care, and religious upbringing. Most often, courts tend to grand joint legal custody, which allows both parents to make these important life decisions.

Should you and the other parent share join legal custody, and choose to exclude them from making decisions, the other parent can take you to court. While this action will not result in a fine or jail time, it can often cause embarrassment and resentment between both parents.

If you share joint legal custody and you feel the other parent won’t communicate with you, or is abusive, you can seek sole legal custody from the court. However, keep in mind that most states prefer joint legal custody. This means that it may be hard to convince the court that sole legal custody is in the child’s best interest.

Sole Custody

You can obtain either sole physical custody of a child or sole legal custody. Fortunately, most courts won’t hesitate to grant sole physical custody to a single parent if they feel that the other parent is unfit.

Generally, courts are moving towards keeping both parents in a child’s life and away from granting sole custody. Furthermore, courts may award sole physical custody to one parent, while also awarding joint legal custody to both parents. In such a situation, both parents retain decision making rights for the child, but the court will assign one parent as a custodial parent.

Joint Custody

Joint custody allows both parents to either share decision-making rights for a child, and/or physical custody of a child. Joint custody can be awarded whether both parents are separated, divorced, or no longer living together. Joint custody can include the following:

  • physical custody
  • legal custody
  • physical and legal custody

Making Joint Custody Arrangements

If the court awards both parents joint custody, they will need to figure out a schedule based on their child’s needs, work requirements, and housing situation. If you and the other parent cannot agree towards a schedule, the court will decide an arrangement for you. Once common arrangement includes having the child split weeks between staying with both parents. Other examples of joint physical custody includes:

  • alternating years or months, or even six-month periods
  • spending weekdays with one parent, while spending weekends with the other parent

Another type of arrangement is “bird’s nest custody”. This type of child custody arrangement allows the child to remain in the home while the parents swap moving in and out.

Disadvantages of Joint Custody

While joint custody allows both parents to stay involved in a child’s life, there are some disadvantages as well. These disadvantages include:

  • the child must constantly move between houses
  • parental noncooperation can negatively impact the child
  • maintaining two different homes for a child can add up in expenses

If you share joint custody, be sure to keep detailed notes of all expenses, just in case the other parent claims you’re not doing your part.

Speak to a Child Custody Attorney

When it comes to who will make decisions for your child, you want to make sure that both your child and you are protected. Speak to a child custody attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks. We can help.