Child Custody – Know Your Options

One of the most important and problematic aspects of a divorce case involves the custody of children. There are different types of child custody and it’s important to have knowledge about them to decide which one of them will be the best solution in your case if you and your spouse have decided to file for a divorce.

Physical Custody

Physical custody allows a parent to receive the right to keep a child with him or her. In some states, joint custody is allowed, implying that the child gets to spend a good amount of time with both parents. The concept of joint physical custody works best if parents don’t live far away from each other. Joint custody is a better option as it helps to distress the children after their parents’ divorce and allows them not to miss the normal routine.

In some cases, only one parent gets the primary physical custody of the child (“custodial” parent) whereas another parent is allowed the right to parenting or visiting time with the child.

Sole Custody

One parent can be granted either sole physical or sole legal custody of a child. Courts usually don’t dilly-dally to grant sole physical custody to one parent, provided the other parent is considered unfit. A parent addicted to alcohol or drug or having a history of child neglect or abuse is a case in point.

It’s interesting to note that some states in the USA are gravitating towards awarding joint custody, considering the fact that both parents have a role in their child’s life. Even if sole physical custody is granted in some cases, the parents share joint legal custody that ensures the noncustodial parent has the right to a substantial visitation schedule.

In such cases where joint legal custody is awarded, both the parties would jointly decide the child’s upbringing but only one of them would be considered the primary physical caretaker of the child whereas the other party would enjoy the visitation right according to parenting schedule or agreement.

Divorce is a bitter episode often driven by animosity between the two parties. Whatever be the reason for your wanting to file a divorce, it’s better to set aside the bitterness for your child’s sake and not to opt for sole custody unless it’s a strong possibility that your spouse will inflict direct harm – physically or mentally – to the child. Even in that case, the court might grant supervised visitation to the other parent.

Talk to an experienced Toledo family lawyer to discuss everything in detail and know his/her opinion on if sole custody will best suit your situation.

Legal Custody

Legal custody means entitlement to the rights and responsibilities towards decision making about a child’s upbringing and future.  A parent, who is granted legal custody of the child, can make major decisions such as the child’s schooling, medical care and even religious teaching. In many states, joint legal custody is granted to both the parents, allowing both of them to engage themselves in decision making pertaining to the child’s future and upbringing.

Joint Custody

Joint custody, also referred to as shared custody, is awarded to the parents who don’t live under the same roof. It allows the parents to share the responsibilities of decision making for their children and/or physical custody and control of the same. Joint custody is awarded to the parents who are divorced, separated, or just don’t live together or even if never cohabited.