Physical custody – Basically, physical custody is whereby a parent is entitled to have a child live with him or her. In various states, courts will award joint physical custody where the child spends a substantial amount of time with the two parents. Joint physical custody is most effective in cases where the parents live in close proximity to each other. This is because it minimizes the stress experienced by the children and it enables them to maintain a near-normal lifestyle. There are situations where the child lives with one parent for the most part while the other parent visits. In such cases, the parent who mainly lives the children – referred to as the ‘custodial parent- is awarded sole physical custody while the other parent – the noncustodial parent – will be entitled to visitation or parenting time with the children. Legal Custody – This is whereby a parent has the right and responsibility of making decisions about how the child will be raised. If a parent is awarded legal custody they are allowed to make decisions regarding the schooling of the child, health care, matters to do with religion e.t.c. Most states grant legal joint legal custody, hence, decision making is split the two parents. In case you have joint legal custody and don’t involve the other parent when making a decision, then they have a right to sue you and request for the enforcement of the custody agreement. If your situation with the other parent makes it very difficult for you to share joint legal custody, for example, they don’t inform you about important matters or they are abusive, then you can request the court to grant you sole legal custody. However, you have to note that joint legal custody is favored in a majority of states, therefore, you will have to present some sort of proof to show the family court judge that that kind of arrangement isn’t of advantage to the children. Sole Custody – One of the parents can be granted either sole legal custody or sole physical custody of a child. The courts will most definitely award sole custody to one parent in case the other is proven to be unfit. For instance, if the other parent has alcohol or drug dependency or has a record of child abuse or neglect. However, in a bid to encourage greater participation of both parents in the child’s upbringing, courts in many states are shifting away from granting sole custody to one parent. Even in cases where sole physical custody is awarded, the courts will often grant joint legal custody. The noncustodial parent will be allowed to visit regularly. In such a scenario, both parents will share the decision-making process, however, one parent will be considered the sole physical caretaker. The other parent will have a right to visit as stipulated in the parenting agreement or schedule. Joint Custody – This is whereby parents who aren’t living together share the role of decision making, and/or physical control and custody of their children. This kind of arrangement can be in place if the parents are divorced, separated, or cease cohabitation, or despite never sharing a home. This type of custody may be: • Joint physical custody ( where each parent gets to spend a substantial amount of time with the children) • Joint legal custody • Joint legal and physical custody. Joint Custody Arrangements – In this case, the parents have to come up with a schedule depending on their housing arrangements, work, and also the children’s needs. In case the parents can’t reach a consensus on the schedule, then the courts will come up with an arrangement. Normally, the goal is to split the weeks spent between each parent’s home. Other forms of joint custody arrangements are: • Switching between the parents monthly, yearly or half-yearly • Staying with one parent on holidays and weekends and staying with the other on weekdays. There can also be a joint custody arrangement where the children continue to stay at the family home while the parents move in and out in turns. While either is out he/she spends at his/her own separate housing. This type of arrangement is also termed as “bird’s nest custody” or “nesting.” Contact Toporowska Law today.