When it comes to child custody determinations, there are many forms of custody that can be awarded by the court. For instance, there is a difference between legal and physical custody, as well as joint and sole custody of the child. If you are going through a divorce with children, it is important to be aware of the forms of custody that are available.
The first form of custody a parent may be awarded is legal custody. Legal custody gives a parent the ability or power to make decisions on behalf of the child. The decisions by the parent could include things such as the child’s education or their medical requirements. In granting legal custody to a parent, the court will inquire into whether that the parent is of a sound mind, and a good decision maker.
In addition to legal custody, parents may also seek physical custody. Physical custody grants the parent the most time with the child. Therefore, the parent that is granted physical custody is often the parent that the child lives with a majority of the time. Even if the parents were granted joint custody, there would still be one parent that would legally be determined to have physical custody. The parent that is awarded physical custody is entitled to receive child support even if they are not making the primary decisions for the child.
Within the above two categories of custody, there is sole custody and joint custody. A parent may have sole physical custody, or sole legal custody of the child. Sole custody is not often rewarded in child custody battles because it essentially eliminates the parent from the child’s life. However, if a parent is found to be unfit, the court will award sole custody to the other parent. Drug and alcohol problems, or a history of abuse can all render a parent unfit to obtain any custody of the child. It is possible that one parent can be granted sole physical custody while also joint legal custody. This would allow the other parent to have an equal say in the decisions regarding the child.
Joint custody allows both parents a share in legal and physical custody rights. The parents are granted the right to participate equally in the decisions involving the child, and split time evenly in caring for the child. Prior to awarding joint custody, the parents are usually asked to complete a joint custody agreement. The agreement requires parents to work out a schedule according to their work schedules, housing arrangements, and the child’s needs. If the parents cannot agree, the court will impose an agreement. Joint custody assures that the child maintains a continued contact and involvement with both parents.
Child custody disputes can be long and emotionally difficult. If you are involved in a custody dispute with your ex, contact an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and make sure that your rights and your children are protected. The Law Office of Larry McCord and Associates is skilled and experienced in dealing with all aspects of family law matters. Call (631) 643-3084 for a consultation today.