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The Common Types of Child Custody Explained

Child Custody

It's unfortunate that 7.6% of marriages in the US ended in divorce during 2019. The good news is that the divorce rates decreased in leaps and bounds in the last ten years.

Children always suffer most during a divorce and sometimes become trapped in a tug-of-war between parents. That's when the courts step in to settle the dispute via certain custody arrangements.

These are the different types of child custody usually awarded by the courts.

What is Child Custody?

Many divorces take place without having to worry about child custody battles. However, if they can't agree on matters, they can ask a court to decide on the best course of action for the children.

During these proceedings, the court decides on the type of custody afforded to each parent.

Legal Custody

This type of child custody means both parents have an obligation and a right to make decisions regarding the child's welfare. For example, they must agree on schooling, medical care, and religious upbringing.

If you and your partner have this type of custody arrangement and you exclude your ex from this decision-making process, they can take you back to court. The judge will most likely enforce your child custody agreement.

That means that you'll have to start complying with it or you'll be guilty of contempt of court.

Physical Custody

This is one of the more common child custody types and revolves around where the child spends most of their time. This type of custody works without issues when the parents live close together and the child can spend equal amounts of time with each parent.

In these cases, the judge awards joint physical custody to the parents.

Sometimes, one parent lives too far away to deal with daily issues like taking the children to school. In these cases, the judge may order that the child lives primarily with one parent (the custodial parent) and visits the other parent on occasion.

Joint Custody

In a way, joint custody refers to both the above types of custody. In fact, the court usually defines these types of custody as joint physical custody or joint legal custody, or both.

If you are wondering, "can I get joint custody?", a judge can award joint custody to parents regardless of whether they're separated, divorced, or never married.

Sole Custody

In unfortunate cases where one parent's deemed unfit i.e. due to a criminal record or drug dependency, judges are quick to allocated sole custody to the other parent.

Unless the unfit parent causes direct harm to the child, the courts still encourage equal involvement in the child's upbringing. In some states, they may even grant unsupervised visitation rights to the unfit parent.

In the best interests of the children, it's never a good idea to seek sole custody without a good reason.

Other Aspects To Do With the Types of Child Custody

Visitation is a major issue in child custody agreements. Both parents have to comply with the ordered visitation schedule. Violating or interfering with visitation rights can lead to serious legal consequences.

Third-party visitation is another contentious issue. This refers to visits by grandparents or other relatives. Most states allow the parents to agree on this.

It's important to note that if you can't reach a consensus, the court can restrict third-party visitation, which has a negative effect on the children.

Putting Your Child's Interests First

All types of child custody place a label on a child's relationship with their parents. It's best to avoid conflict and animosity at all costs in the best interests of your children.

If you'd like to find out more about how to best approach parenting and other aspects of your children's development, keep browsing our blog.

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