A divorce may be messy and complicated, especially when there is a child involved. Child custody can easily be the biggest issue that divorcing couples have, and it will be settled before the divorce is finalized. A lawyer will help fight for you to help ensure you receive the custody arrangement you desire, but it's important to understand what the potential arrangements can be.
A parent that has legal custody of a child will be the one that makes the important decisions concerning their upbringing. This includes the kind of school that they go to, the religion they are taught, and the medical care they receive. It is possible for a judge to award both parents legal custody, which lets both parents make joint decisions in how the child will be raised.
If you believe there will be problems making these parenting decisions together with your former spouse, you may file a petition to be the only parent to receive legal custody of your child.
Having physical custody of your child means that they will be living with you at your home. There can be limits placed on how long a child lives with a parent in certain situations.
Joint Physical Custody
It is common for a judge to decide that joint custody is best for the child. There is not a formula that decides how custody is split, since it is usually decided on a case-by-case basis. For example, a judge may decide that a child stays with one parent on weekdays so that their school schedule is not disrupted, but they stay with the other parent on the weekend. A child can also rotate between parents each week, making custody truly equal between both parents.
A judge will make the final approval of any joint custody arrangement with the child's needs in mind.
Sole Physical Custody
This form of custody involves one parent being awarded physical custody, having the child spend most of their time with that parent. In these situations, non-custodial parents can be allowed visitation on set days for a defined period of time. If a judge feels that the child will not be safe while alone with the that parent, they can mandate that visitation is supervised by either an appointed social worker or family member
If you still have questions about custody arrangements, your divorce lawyer can address any concerns related to your specific situation. Click here for additional reading.