Parents often must educate themselves or seek clarification of various legal terms and phrases regarding the future care and upbringing of children after divorce. Especially where child custody is concerned, many may not realize there are various types of custody, and they may need to negotiate several different agreements. Physical and legal custody are the two main types most commonly addressed in divorce court.
One of the most basic decisions parents must make with regard to their children after divorce is which parent will reside in the same home as the children. This is known as physical custody. In certain circumstances, both parents may be awarded joint physical custody, typically when they live a very close distance apart. On the other hand, sole custody refers to situations where only one parent lives with the children; the non-custodial parent is often granted visitation rights.
In addition to where a child lives, divorced parents will face many situations where important decisions regarding a child’s education, health or other matters must be made. Legal custody means that a parent has the authority to make such decisions without consulting the other parent. The parent with legal custody must be consulted before any such decisions are made.
It is also possible for both parents to share legal custody. In such situations, parents must discuss all pending matters and come to an agreement before action is taken. When communication between parents is tumultuous, complications often arise prompting one or the other to request sole legal custody from the court. Every family's child custody needs and goals are different, and what works best for one may prove disastrous for another. This is why such matters are best negotiated alongside experienced legal representation.