When parents get divorced, they typically have to divide custody of their child. Some parents will agree on how they would like to do this, but the process of addressing this issue can be very contentious for other couples. The court will have to issue the terms of a child custody order if a child’s parents cannot reach an agreement.
It’s important for parents to realize that there are two different types of custody. The first is known as physical custody, which is often referred to as parenting time. This indicates where the child is going to live and which parent is in charge of them and taking care of them at that time. It’s also what most parents think of first when considering the division of custody.
The second type is legal custody, which is often referred to as decision-making power. This indicates who gets to make major choices on the child’s behalf. These choices could include things like where that child will go to school, what vaccines they will get as a baby, what religion they’ll be raised in, who their medical provider will be and truly consequential things of this nature.
Division is tailored to the unique circumstances of each case
When the court issues an order, it will divide both of these types of custody, but it doesn’t have to do so in exactly the same way. For example, one parent may travel too much for work to have 50/50 shared physical custody, or the court may simply feel that the child would be better off living with the other parent for the majority of the time. But both parents could still be involved in making important decisions for their child. So, even if one parent has sole physical custody, they could have shared legal custody.
The intricacies of dividing two kinds of custody in ways that reflect any particular family’s unique circumstances can make the process very complicated. As a result, seeking legal guidance tailored to one’s situation is generally wise when parents of a minor child decide to split.