The Secret About Child Custody You Probably Didn’t Know About


Custody is a legal status determining who has the responsibility to care for and look after a minor child. This can include things as simple as feeding, clothing, and sheltering a minor. It can also include decisions concerning health care, schooling, and other life decisions. The courts make a distinction and decision on two types of custody, physical custody, and legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is often the first that comes to a person’s mind; it determines which party will take care of the child and who the child will live with. A parent or guardian may receive joint physical custody. This means the child’s physical care is shared substantially by both parties. Sole custody gives one of the parties a significant majority of the parent time. This does not mean that the other party has no time with the child, rather would just have less parent time with the child than a joint custodial parent. Generally, whichever party is caring for the child at the time will be responsible for the physical well-being of the child.

Legal Custody

Legal custody determines which parent or guardian makes the final decision in legal matters.  This could be concerning the child and day to day life decisions such as healthcare, education, religion, etc. Like physical custody, legal custody can be either joint or sole. In the case of joint custody, the court or the parties had a spectrum of responsibilities that can be shared. Some joint custody orders are similar to sole custody except that both parties are expected to share information about the child.

Some joint custody orders require more joint involvement with both parties to discuss the child’s needs before making decisions. Other orders require agreement on what is in the best interest of the child when making important decisions. A parent with final say in a joint custody or sole custody arrangement is allowed to do what he or she feels is in the best interest of the child. The parties can agree or the court will determine if parents can work together on making decisions.

Where To Go From Here:

These custody statuses can vary. A parent can have sole physical custody but only joint legal custody. For example, if a parent moves to a different state and joint physical custody is not feasible, one party might have sole physical custody while having joint legal custody. The custodial parent would have the child for the significant majority of the time. However, they may still be required to consult the other party when making important decisions regarding the child.

When making determinations concerning custody, the court will consider factors like the conduct of the parents, the ability to care for the child, the ability of both parties to co-parent effectively, and the relationship between the parent and the child to name a few. If you can come to an agreement about custody without going to court, you should still consult with an attorney to ensure the courts have your custody rights properly outlined and recorded to avoid future disputes.