There are over 600,000 couples that get divorced in the United States each year. It can be a hard and stressful time in your life.
But, if you’re getting divorced and you have children, you might be confused about your custody options.
Let’s go through the different types of child custody.
Physical custody refers to where your child resides. If one parent has sole physical custody, their child will live solely with them. However, the other parent will usually still have some visitation with the child granted.
You can also have joint physical custody agreements. These are agreements where your child lives with each of you some of the time. This doesn’t have to be a completely equal split – many people have agreements for summers and holidays. Those sorts of splits can be particularly helpful for people who live far from one another.
Or, if both parents live in some proximity to one another, and any children will still be able to access their school and other activities from both houses, you can have a more equal physical custody split.
Of course, if each parent lives in completely different states (or even countries) the situation might be more complex. You might need to consult with people who have experience with different types of law since the nuances can differ depending on what jurisdiction you’re in.
Visitation rights can also be negotiated as part of physical custody. Non-parent family members may want the right to visit your children even when they’re staying with your former partner. That can be negotiated as part of your custody agreement.
If you’re trying to figure out physical custody of your child, you’ll want to consult with a family lawyer. They can help ensure that you get a fair judgment that works for both you and your family.
Rotating Parent Custody Options
One sub-type of physical custody option is rotating parent custody or birds’ nest custody. This is a type of custody where the child stays in one home, but the parents rotate in and out of the home as the custody agreement dictates.
This type of agreement can be a lot easier on the child or children since they don’t have to constantly get used to new locations. However, it can be stressful for their parents, who will still technically be spending a lot of time in contact with their ex-spouse.
And, these agreements can be financially complicated. Depending on each spouse’s employment and financial situation, and the number of children you have, it might be cost prohibitive to keep paying for three (or even just two) homes, even if one is just a rented apartment.
That’s why you’ll need to take a deep dive into your finances with a professional, to see what custody options you and your ex-spouse will be able to afford. There’s no point getting your hopes up for something that’s not viable, after all.
Legal custody is custody over the things that happen in your child’s life. Legal custody allows you to choose the schools that your children go to, for example.
Legal custody means that you make decisions about your child’s healthcare, and what religion they’re raised in. If one parent has sole legal custody, they never have to consult the other parent about their choices.
This can be a major sticking point in some divorce battles, especially when it comes to religion. So, you may want to have a prenup or other legal document in advance to ensure that you’re on the same page before you end up in a situation where you’re fighting for legal custody of your children.
In some cases, legal custody might be granted to a non-parent guardian. Like physical custody, legal custody can also be split or shared between both parents.
Sole custody is when one parent has sole legal and physical custody over the child. Sole custody usually isn’t what the courts prefer unless there are extenuating circumstances.
If one parent is incarcerated, for example, the courts may award one parent sole custody. One parent might also not want further contact with their children and might renounce their parental rights. Or, one parent might be financially, physically, or emotionally unavailable to properly support their children.
But, if you’re wondering how to be fit parents, you might want to look into joint custody options in some way. If your former spouse was abusive, of course, you should fight for sole custody. Protect your child from those situations at all costs.
But in a lot of cases, children benefit from having regular contact with both their parents. Seeing that their parents can continue to at least work together to parent even though they’re no longer in a romantic relationship. This can help set them up for more healthy relationships as they get older, whether they be romantic or platonic.
You can also have joint legal custody of your child while only one partner has physical custody. This is another option when parents live far apart from each other. That way, the parent who doesn’t have physical custody can still have a voice in their child’s life and communicate with their child regularly.
Types of Child Custody: Now You Know
Hopefully, you now have the information to decide what types of child custody might be options in your situation
Do you need legal advice in Mount Pleasant? Contact McGrath Law Firm today for everything you need.