Types of Child Custody Overview
There are several types of child custody. Child custody is a legal term that is frequently used in the family courts to describe the rights and responsibilities of parents to their minor child when the parents divorce or separate and a child is involved. While there are different types of child custody, child custody generally involves two fundamental principles with respect to the family courts and child custody disputes, namely, where the child will live and decision making regarding the upbringing and raising of the child.
Physical custody will typically describe who the child will live with. The terms of physical custody may be agreed upon by the parents or ordered by the court and is often in the form of a parenting plan, child custody order, or both. There are several different types of physical custody. Whether the physical custody aspect of child custody is outlined in a parenting plan or in a court order the parents will typically be described as having primary physical custody, secondary physical custody, sole custody (or full physical custody), or joint physical custody (or shared physical custody).
Legal custody will typically describe the decision making regarding the upbringing and raising of the child. There are several different types of legal custody. Legal custody will generally take the form of joint legal custody (or shared legal custody), but in some cases sole legal custody (or full legal) custody may be awarded to one of the parents.
Temporary custody typically refers to an agreement or stipulation regarding child custody made between the parents or orderd by the court. Temporary child custody agreements or temporary child custody orders are common at the beginning of a divorce or separation. When parents reach agreements on child custody they can avoid the high court costs associated with attorney fees and protracted litigation. However, it is important to understand the implications of temporary custody agreements or temporary custody orders -- they can become permanent.
Joint child custody typically refers to an agreement or stipulation regarding child custody made between the parents or orderd by the court that allows the minor child to spend a significant amount of time or an equal amount of time (i.e. joint physical custody) with each parent.
When parents separate and a child is involved and they are unable to come to an agreement on where the child will live and decisions pertaining to the upbringing and raising of their child, the family court is often left with the difficult task of determining the best custodial arrangement of the children and parenting plan for the parents.
Parents who are informed about physical custody and legal custody may be able to come to an agreement without the overuse of the family courts, family law attorneys, long-drawn-out litigation and the costs frequently associated with each. For example, parents may be able to utilize Alternative Dispute Resolution such as Child Custody Mediation or Collaborative Law. The more parents can understand what is involved in child custody determinations including physical custody and legal custody the more informed they will be in making decisions regarding their children after a divorce.
It is important to distinguish between the different types of child custody such as physical custody and legal custody. You will want to learn how they are different both in terms of a definition and the level of child custody rights you will have with your child. To learn about the different types of child custody available to you and the legal implications each may have on your child custody rights as a mother, father, or grandparent, you would do well to consult an attorney in your area.