Going through a divorce can lead to many lifestyle changes. When couples decide to separate, one of the first things they must figure out is how to properly divide their belongings. Dividing physical or monetary belongings is rather simple in the grand scheme of things—it’s just a matter of mathematical calculations. Dividing children, on the other hand, is a different story. Determining child custody is not as black and white as dividing up property or assets. All states have different laws in regards to child custody. However in all states, there are 4 common types of child custody to consider.
Parents can’t have both sole legal and physical custody of a child. They can only have one or the other, unless the court decides that one of the parents is unfit due to drug dependence, alcohol abuse, child neglect, child abuse and so on. In many states, judges are trying to steer away from giving sole custody to just one parent. For example, if a parent has sole physical custody, then the other parent is usually awarded with joint legal custody and vice versa.
Also known as shared custody, parents have joint custody if they are not residing together. Joint custody can be awarded to parents who are separated, divorced, or simply not living under the same roof. Joint custody may refer to joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or joint legal and physical custody.
Full Legal Custody:
When a parent has legal custody of a child, the parent is given the responsibility of making any important decisions before the child is considered an adult. These decisions could range anywhere from what school to enroll the child, what type of insurance to have the child on and so forth. Any parent without any type of legal custody of the child has no legal right to make these kinds of decisions.
Joint Legal Custody:
In most states, laws in regard to joint custody will be awarded to both parents. This simply means that both parents have a say in making any decisions in regards to the child. If for any reason, one of the parents makes a decision without notifying the other, he or she can take it to court. No fine or penalty will be given, however tension may rise in these types of situations. Most states consider joint custody as the best way to go, so the child can have both parental figures. Thus if you are adamant in having full custody, be ready to convince the judge why you think full custody is within the best interest of the child.
If a parent has physical custody of a child, the child has the right to reside with the parent. Similarly, states are able to give joint physical custody to parents so that the child can spend time with both parents. Parents without any type of physical custody of the child may visit the child in accordance to agreed visitation rules.
Emily Li occasionally writes for Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC, a family law firm with some of the best divorce lawyers in Georgia. In her free time, Emily enjoys reading up on the latest legal news and advice.