During the dissolution of a marriage, one of your hardest decisions may be who will end up having custody of your children. Will you be the primary custodial parent? Will it be your future ex-spouse? Will you share custody? Child custody is among the biggest sources of contention during a marital breakup that involves children, but these decisions can remain with you and the other parent.
Many individuals who are navigating the divorce process generally understand child custody. However, they might not necessarily understand the different kinds of child custody exist as outlined below.
Physical child custody
If you receive this type of custody, your children will reside with you following your divorce. However, in some cases, both parents receive joint physical custody, where the children reside with one parent for a certain amount of time and then live with the other one. However, this typically happens only if both parents live near one another. Otherwise, such an arrangement may be too stressful for the children to handle long term.
Legal child custody
If a judge grants you this type of custody, you make important decisions concerning your children's education, upbringing and health, among other things. For example, you decide where your children will attend school and what religion they will practice. You also determine the type of medical treatment they can receive. If you and the other party are granted joint legal custody, both of you must work together to make these decisions for your children.
Sole custody versus joint custody
You will likely end up with sole custody of your children -- where only you get legal or physical custody of them -- if you successfully show that the other party is not fit enough to receive custody. For example, maybe he or she has drug, alcohol or financial problems.
However, judges today are generally interested in awarding joint legal custody so that both parents can contribute to their children's upbringing. In addition, even in situations where one parent receives sole physical custody of the children, judges prefer noncustodial parents to have more opportunities to visit with their children.
Your rights when dealing with child custody
If both you and your future ex can reach an agreement regarding how to address child custody during your divorce proceeding, you do not have to tackle this issue at trial. Otherwise, the court will end up determining your child custody situation's outcome. Either way, an attorney can help you to pursue an outcome that meets your needs and is ultimately in the best interests of your children.