Understanding Child Custody Options

If you are going through a divorce or have recently undergone one and you have children, then you can believe that some type of custody issue is going to arise. In this situation, the most important thing is to keep the focus on the children, doing what is truly best for them. Even when parents are fighting, kids never deserve to be put in the middle. In addition to working with a reputable attorney, you also want to do some initial homework to understand your options for custody.

Custody of children is broken down into two categories – legal and physical. For legal, there is sole custody, which means that just one parent has complete custody of the child. This parent would have full authority to make all decisions on behalf of the child. The other option would be joint custody. For this situation, both parents would have legal custody of the child, making major decisions together.

Keep in mind that when I talk about “legal custody”, this refers to major decisions that would involve things such as religion, schooling, non-emergency medical decisions, healthcare, and so on. Parents who have joint legal custody do not necessarily share physical custody. For instance, if a father lived in California and the mother in New York, they could still have legal joint custody.

The second category is “physical category”. In this situation, you could also have sole custody in which the child has one permanent home with one parent. Now, the non-custodial parent would likely have ample time for visitation, barring any reason for restrictions. In addition, joint custody could also apply, which as mentioned above, means the child lives part of the time with mom and part of the time with dad. The exact schedule would depend on the parents and the court but of course, the child’s interest is the primary consideration.

Finally, physical custody could also include what is known as a “Bird’s Nest”. Although you do not hear of this too often, it includes a situation in which the child lives in a central location so mom and dad can rotate in and out of the home on a scheduled basis. Again, this last option is not as common but for some families, it works, especially when you have a parent traveling. Custody is always a sensitive issue so know your rights and options so your children can have as stable of a life as possible.