Child custody is an issue that you will likely need to resolve and create a plan around if you have children and are in the process of divorcing your partner. Often people confuse visitation and custody depending on where the child resides. It is a common misconception that the custodial parent has sole custody while the parent with weekend visitation is having visitation. If you find yourself in a child custody situation, it is important to have an understanding of the types of custody arrangements that are available.
Joint Custody and Both Parents
The court’s prefer for both parents to be involved in the care of their child whenever possible. The largest exception to this is when a parent is not fit to take care of the child. In some cases, one parent may have physical custody of the child, while both parents share legal custody. When this occurs, the non-custodial parent will have a visitation schedule that usually is negotiated with the parents.
- Joint Legal Custody allows for both parents to play a large role in raising their child. Despite their divorce, parents must work together to make decisions for the child. When this occurs, one parent may be the primary parent but legal custody is equally shared. Meaning, the parents must agree on decisions made for the child including where they will attend school and their medical care.
Other Custody Options
The type of custody that may be determined for your child will vary depending on your situation.
- Physical Custody deciphers where the child lives and means that the child resides in the home of the parent with physical custody. It is not always realistic for a child to live with each parent half of the time, especially when they are in school. The child may not be able to equally share their time. When this occurs, one parent is identified as the primary parent and the other is secondary.
- Legal Custody is the person responsible for making all of the big decisions for the child. They hold most of the power when it comes to the child.
- Most of the time, the parent with both physical and legal custody of the child are the same.
- Sole Custody may occur if the court has determined that one of the parents is unfit. Sole custody is when one parent is appointed by the court as having all custodial rights to the child. This is considered unusual as the courts prefer to have both parents involved. When the court has determined that a parent is unfit it can be for a variety of reasons but may include i.e. substance abuse issues or charges of child abuse or neglect. If found in such a situation, a parent should access a family attorney, like skilled child custody attorneys in Arizona or your area, for their guidance.
Contacting an attorney who has an understanding of family law may be helpful when discussing your particular situation. Although it can be complex and at times challenging work out a custody agreement with your ex partner, it’s important to remember that it is for the betterment of your child.
Thanks to our contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into child custody cases.