You want what is best for your child, and so does the court in the case of a divorce. That is why child custody is a very serious matter that the court strictly regulates.

If parents are able to work together and determine a custody arrangement amongst themselves, the court usually lets that agreement stand. However, if both parties cannot agree, the court will determine custody, which can take a few different forms.

Sole custody

As the name indicates, sole custody is when a parent receives full custody of the child. The other parent may still retain visiting rights or may lose all privileges, depending on the situation. The courts conduct an investigation to determine the option that works in the best interest of the child. Though sole custody is possible, the courts tend to lean towards a form of joint custody.

Joint legal custody

Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make all legal decisions for a child. A few common legal matters that the parents control include:

  • Education
  • Health care and medical decisions
  • Religion

With joint legal custody, the parents share these responsibilities. In cases where the parents are not able to come to an agreement, the courts may have to intervene.

Joint physical custody

Joint physical custody means the child lives with both parents. Either the parents or the judge makes an arrangement for when the child stays with which parent. Having a proper parenting plan is a requirement and helps to keep both parents accountable. It also fosters a team effort and aids in creating a routine to establish some normalcy for the child in a confusing situation.

If you are planning or undergoing a divorce, it is in the best interest of the child that you and your ex-spouse work together and determine a custody agreement that benefits the child. If that is not an option, make sure you understand the custody process so you know what to expect and what the courts expect of you.