Legal custody refers to the situation in which one or both parents are accountable for the child’s upbringing, including the following:
- Where they will attend school and access other educational resources.
- Participation in any extracurricular activities.
- Health care, which includes vaccinations and mental health care.
- Religious instruction/practices.
Sole Legal Custody
When you have sole legal custody of your children, you can legally make all child-related decisions without consulting the other parent. If you want sole legal custody, though, you will have to convince the judge that this situation is in the children’s best interests. You could have a case for sole legal custody if:
- One parent is unfit to make wise decisions regarding the children due to mental illness or untreated substance abuse.
- One parent does not take an interest in the children’s lives.
- One parent is abusive.
- Hostility/fighting between parents makes it hard for a joint custody agreement to work.
Also known as joint legal custody or joint physical custody, this kind of custody necessitates the submission of a parenting plan to the judge by both parents. In most states, the custody situation is the default immediately following a divorce.
If you and your spouse work out a parenting agreement prior to or during the divorce process, you can include details on how you will communicate with each other during decisions made regarding the child’s best interest.
Unfortunately, joint custody can sometimes lead to post-divorce battles whenever parents have strong disagreements. In the worst-case scenarios, a judge could decide to award sole legal custody to one parent.
This type of custody refers to the right of parents to live with and take care of their own children on a daily basis. As with all custody decisions, judges will consider which custody or parenting arrangement would be in the best interest of the children.
Sole Physical Custody
Your children will live with you full time when you have a sole physical custody agreement. A judge will typically award sole physical custody to one parent when the other parent:
- Is incarcerated.
- Is unfit to live with the children due to child abuse or neglect, substance abuse or serious mental illness.
- Is unable to provide the children with a safe housing situation.
- Lives extremely far away from the other parent.
Joint Or Shared Physical Custody
When a court awards joint physical custody, the kid’s physical residence is divided between the parents in such a way that the youngster has essentially equal time and contact with both parents. When parents share joint legal custody or when one parent is given sole custody, joint physical custody may be awarded.
Shared custody, though, does not always mean a 50-50 split. Children will often live primarily with one parent, yet spend overnights at the other parent’s home. This will usually happen on weekends or during school vacations. In this type of arrangement, one parent is considered the custodial parent, with the other considered the noncustodial parent.
In 50-50 splits, children will most likely spend four nights with one parent and three nights with the other. It is possible for the parents to agree on alternating weeks, months or longer periods of time to see their children.
When parents enter into a joint custody agreement, they may be able to work out a parenting plan or schedule that fits both the children’s and parents’ needs. If the parents are unable to work out a schedule, a judge will order them to participate in custody mediation. Some states will actually require mediation in all cases that involve custody disputes.
Parenting plans can include the following details:
- How to arrange pick-ups and drop-offs between the parents.
- Paying for the cost of transportation if the parents live far from one another.
- How the parents will communicate any requests for temporary schedule changes.
Source: “The Different Types Of Child Custody” NOLO https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/types-of-child-custody-29667.html
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