If you are currently facing divorce and have minor children, you might be wondering how to handle the child custody situation. Even if you and your spouse are divorcing amicably and you believe you can come to a compromise in regards to custody, it helps to know as much about it as possible. You have three options for custody: legal custody, physical custody and visitation. Here is more information about each main type of child custody.
With legal custody, you have all authorities on behalf of your children. This means any major decisions to be made are made by you, including where they will go to school, what religion they will follow, and the basics of raising them. This also includes teaching them essential moral and values. You also make medical decisions for them that are not considered an emergency.
Within legal custody, you and your spouse can either decide on sole legal custody or joint legal custody. With sole legal custody, you have all the legal authorities on your children, meaning your spouse can have no say in their education, religion and medical decisions. With joint legal custody, you and your spouse must make these decisions together.
Physical custody is different from legal custody in that it is not just making decisions you have a say in, but the children are also living with you. This type of child custody is often referred to as residential custody. Like legal custody, you can choose between sole physical custody or joint physical custody. If you have sole physical custody of your children, they live in your home at all times, though you may allow visitation.
Joint physical custody is where the child lives with you for part of the time and with your spouse for part of the time. Many parents choose to have their child with one parent during the week and with the other parent on the weekends. A third option is called bird's nest custody where the child lives in one home, but the parents can each trade staying in this home with the child.
The third type of child custody is visitation, though it can be included in sole or partial custody for either legal custody or physical custody of the child. You and your spouse must come to an agreement in regards to visitation rights. If there is doubt that your spouse can take care of your children full-time due to a history with substance abuse or because they work a lot of long hours, you can have sole custody but give them visitation rights. The visitation may be supervised or unsupervised.
Any time you are seeking custody of your children, regardless of what type you want to choose, you should talk to experienced child custody lawyers.