Child custody can be an extremely complicated issue because there are different types of arrangements, each requiring a unique way of handling them. If you are currently seeking custody of your child and need guidance, it’s important to get the help of a family law attorney who can help you. They can not only represent your best interests but also guide you when it comes to what steps to take to get the outcome you desire. Let’s take a look at the different types of child custody and how they differ.
Legal custody falls under the umbrella of child custody as it allows a parent to make long-term decisions when it comes to raising their child and their well-being. This includes decisions about the child’s education, medical care, and religion among other things. In many divorce cases, both parents get legal custody, this is joint legal custody. They both have a say when it comes to the decisions about their child.
But, in some cases, only one parent receives legal custody (sole legal custody). In this situation, only that parent has the authority to make decisions regarding their child. While they can consider the other parent’s opinions, they are not legally bound to do so.
Physical custody refers to where a child lives daily. The parent who has physical custody takes care of the child on a day-to-day basis. When one parent has physical custody the other parent usually has visitation rights. A schedule allows the parent with visitation rights to have exclusive time with their child every other weekend, certain days of the week, and certain holidays. The two parents usually arrange the schedule together as part of the divorce agreement.
When only one parent has complete custody of the child it is sole custody. This is often awarded when the other parent is absent or abusive. If a parent has sole legal and physical custody, the child not only lives with them all of the time, but they also make all decisions regarding the child. The other parent may have some visitation time, but it will vary from case to case.
There are some situations when one parent will have sole physical custody but will share legal custody. In these situations, both parents have a say in the decisions made about the child’s well-being but the child will live with only one parent. If you do have sole custody you may not relocate to another state or area without the court’s permission, especially if the other parent has visitation rights.
Joint Child Custody
In these types of custody situations, the child splits the time between the two parents’ homes. Parents can have joint legal and physical custody where the child lives some of the time with one parent and some of the time with the other. Both parents will make decisions about the child’s well-being, education, etc. Some families prefer this because it allows the child to keep a strong bond with each parent and experience living with both parents, just separately.
In other joint custody arrangements, both parents will share legal custody where they both get to make decisions, but only one parent will have physical custody. Some families prefer this situation because it doesn’t disrupt the child’s routine and keeps them on a consistent schedule. It really is a matter of finding what works best for your family situation.
Grandparent Visitation and Child Custody
There are times when grandparents may seek visitation and custody. If both parents are absent or are unfit parents, the grandparents can ask the court for custody. These cases typically come up in the following situations:
- Both parents have passed away
- Parents deemed unfit to have custody
- Child’s parents agree to grandparent custody
- The child has lived with a grandparent for a year or more
The court considers the best interest of the child when deciding whether to grant a grandparent custody. This includes whether that custody will be both legal and physical.
In other cases, grandparents will petition the court for visitation rights if there is a divorce between the parents and they think they will be denied the right to see the children. Many courts will typically ask that all non-legal routes are taken before resorting to legal action when it comes to grandparent visitation.
When deciding on any type of child custody issues it’s always important to keep the child’s best interests in mind. This is true, despite any conflicts you may be having with the other parent. This ensures that the child will be taken care of. It also prevents them from getting caught in the middle of a legal battle.
Do You Need Help with Child Custody Issues?
If you are going through a divorce or need help with child custody issues, Wilson & Associates Law is here for you. We believe we can best serve children when both parents can maintain a civil relationship. We help clients go through a mediation process that can help parents put aside their differences and focus on their children’s needs. This allows parents to come to a mutual decision rather than letting the courts decide their children’s fate.