Understanding the Different Types of Child Custody:

Child custody falls into two distinct categories – legal custody and physical custody – including sole custody and joint custody.

Legal Custody

Refers to the legal authority to make major decisions on behalf of a minor child. Those major decisions govern the areas of education, religion, and non-emergency medical decisions.

Joint Legal Custody

Means that both parents have been awarded legal authority to make major decisions on behalf of a minor child. Again, those decisions govern the areas mentioned above regarding education, religion, and non-emergency medical decisions. It is important to note that having joint legal custody is something parents can share without having joint physical custody.

Sole Legal Custody

Means that the parent who has been awarded sole legal custody is the only person who has the legal authority to make major decisions regarding education, religion, and non-emergency medical decisions on behalf of the minor child.

Physical Custody

Refers to where the minor child lives the majority of the time.

Joint Physical Custody

Or shared custody, means that the minor child lives with one parent for part of the week/year, and lives with the other parent during the remaining time. In this situation, the division of time spent living with each parent is approximately equal.

Sole Physical Custody

Means that the minor child’s permanent residence is at one location. However, in most situations where there is sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent is awarded generous visitations rights that also include sleepovers.

 

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