Understanding The Different Types of Child Custody

Child custody is one of the most critical areas of law because it determines how much influence you will have in your child’s life after the separation from your spouse.

However, regardless of the parents’ situation during a relationship breakdown, they should not be denied involvement in their child’s upbringing as long as they have parental responsibility.

So, if you ever find yourself in such a stressful situation when you’re in the middle of the divorcing procedure but you’re not sure who’ll get the children, it’s time to consider hiring a child custody lawyer from your area.

Child custody lawyers understand that it can be a frightening process during an already difficult time.

As a result, they can provide you with the best possible legal protection over the custody of your children. 

Why Turn To Family Solicitors for a Child Custody Matter?

If you’re going through a divorce, when it comes to family law, there is nothing more essential than having an experienced and qualified child custody lawyer on your side.

Mistakes and misunderstandings can have devastating consequences for your and your children’s future relationship at this critical juncture.

As a result, by retaining the services of a specialist family solicitor, you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands.

Furthermore, these lawyers will always give 100% to ensure that a fair agreement is reached and everyone is content with the agreement. 

As we mentioned in the intro of this article, below, we’ll explain the four main types of child custody so that you’re better prepared and know what to expect from the process. 

1. Physical Custody

This type of custody determines which parent the child spends most of their time with daily and is divided into two types of physical custody: sole and joint.

When a child has sole physical custody, they live primarily with one parent. The parent with sole physical custody is referred to as the ‘custodial’ parent, while the other parent is referred to as the ‘noncustodial’ parent.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the noncustodial parent will usually be granted visitation or parenting time with their child. 

Nowadays, the court will most likely award sole physical custody to one parent as a child’s well-being is the court’s top priority.

As a result, giving one parent sole physical custody will cause the least disruption to a child’s routine.

When children have joint physical custody, they spend significant time with both parents. Although joint custody may appear to be the most equitable solution for both parents, this is not always the case in the child’s custody proceedings.

If joint physical custody is granted, the children will be shuttled back and forth between parents regularly.

Parents frequently have joint legal custody of their children, regardless of the physical arrangements. But what exactly is legal custody, and how is it different from physical custody?

2. Legal Custody

Physical custody is distinct from legal custody and all other custody types.

Whereas physical custody determines where the child lives, legal custody determines which parent is in charge of the child’s upbringing. A child’s upbringing includes education, medical care, and religious upbringing.

However, just like physical custody, there are two kinds of legal custody:

  • Sole legal custody is when one parent is given the authority to decide about the child’s upbringing.
  • Joint legal custody is when both parents are granted the right to share decision-making authority over their child’s upbringing.

If you share joint legal custody with the other parent and exclude them from decision-making, your ex-spouse can take you back to court and request that the child custody agreement is enforced.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be punished, but the consequences will be costly in terms of legal fees.

Furthermore, it will cause friction between you and your former partner, which will complicate joint custody agreements even more. 

3. Full Custody

Full custody means that one parent has sole physical and legal custody of a child.

However, even if one parent is granted sole custody, the other parent will almost certainly retain visitation rights.

When one of the following situations occurs, one parent may be granted full custody:

  • The courts have determined that the other parent is unfit to raise a child.
  • The other parent has been incarcerated in the past or has a criminal record.
  • The other parent has a history of substance abuse or child neglect.
  • One of the parents is ill, disabled, or otherwise incapacitated.

There could be resentment between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, unless the other parent causes direct harm to the children, it is best not to seek full custody.

4. Joint Custody

Joint custody occurs when both parents share custody of aspects of their children’s lives. Joint custody can take one of three forms:

  • Physical joint custody is when a child spends significant time with both parents.
  • Legal joint custody is a situation in which both parents make decisions about their child’s upbringing.
  • Joint physical and legal custody is when both physical and legal custody is shared, a child spends significant amounts of time with both parents. Furthermore, both parents make decisions about the child’s upbringing.

When parents share joint custody, they usually work out a timetable that considers their work schedules, living arrangements, and the needs of their children.

If the parents cannot reach an agreement on these points, the court will impose one.

Final Thoughts

While disagreements about child custody can be detrimental to parents who are going through a divorce, parents must have what’s best for their child at heart.

Having unfavorable circumstances and being in an unhealthy environment can affect a child’s life, from their physical health to their emotional well-being.

Therefore, when negotiating child custody agreements, both parents can work together to determine what will work best for them and their families.

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