Parents going through a divorce often think about their children first. Losing a child in a divorce is most parents’ fear. However, parents generally agree to shared child custody arrangements during the divorce process. Child custody allows parents to have some parental rights once the divorce is finalized.
Child custody is a complex subject. Here are a few basics it’s important to know:
What are legal and physical custody?
There are two types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody allows a parent to make important decisions for their child regarding things like education, religion and medical care. This can, for example, allow a parent to choose a public or private school for their child or homeschool them. A parent may also have the right to make meaningful decisions for their child, such as if they will undergo treatment for a birth defect.
Physical custody refers to parenting time and a parent’s responsibility to maintain their child’s daily routine. When a parent has physical custody, they are responsible for feeding, clothing and sheltering their child.
Does joint or sole custody work for you?
Each parent can have some legal and physical custody of their child. Deciding whether a parent has legal and/or physical custody is typically determined through the custody arrangement. If parents work together to raise their children after a divorce, then they can share physical and legal custody through a joint custody arrangement.
Alternatively, one parent may raise their child alone with sole custody. The other parent may have some visitation rights, which can allow them to still maintain a presence in their child’s life.
A custody arrangement can be agreed upon by both parents. If they can’t reach an agreement, a judge may have to decide how custody is shared or whether one parent will have sole custody.
Learning about child custody is important for divorcing parents. Having experienced legal guidance can help you with child custody negotiations and the entire divorce process.