If you are a parent of a minor child, you have the legal and moral obligation to contribute financially and physically to their upbringing in virtually every situation. It is crucial to understand the different types of custody and how they will pertain to you. Fortunately, there are several types and sub-types of custody today.
What Is Sole Physical Custody?
When you have sole physical custody of your child, it means that you are exclusively granted the right to make all decisions for the child, including those pertaining to their education, health and socialization. You will not need to consult with the other parent about those decisions. In addition, the child lives with you, although the other parent may be given supervised or unsupervised visitation.
In this context, you will be known as a "Primary Custodian" for your child.
What Is Joint Custody?
Joint custody can include several different arrangements. Both parents have time with the child. This option differs from sole custody in that both parents usually have to agree on major parenting decisions.
In recent years, shared custody has become a more common situation. It is also not unusual for parents to be required to get permission from the other parent to move out of the area or state, due to the difficulties of maintaining equal visitation over long distances.
Is Alternating Custody Right For You?
Alternating custody is a type of joint custody. It is often an ideal choice when both parents live in the same area. It offers a more evenly divided period of time with the child for each parent and can have a dramatic impact on the need for or amount of child support.
It can be described as a more precise division of time and frequently allows the child with to spend half the week with one parent and the rest of the week with the other. Alternating custody may also be known as divided custody and is useful because while the child is in your custody, you have the sole right to the parenting decisions. The other parent has that right during their time with the child.
What About Shared Custody?
Shared custody is almost identical to alternating custody. Two differences are that you and the other parent will need to agree on major decisions for the child and there may not always be a 50/50 split for custodial time with your child.
One advantage of this option is that it may be easier to work around unusual work hours and other commitments, due to its more flexible schedule.
In conclusion, it should also be pointed out that each state can make different determinations, as every custody situation is different. Therefore, it is best to speak with a child custody lawyer when you need to make a custody agreement or to change the existing one.