What Are the Types of Child Custody?
Child custody is a complex area of family law which typically deals with the rights for a child to live with a parent and the ability for a parent to make decisions about the child’s upbringing.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
The two main types of custody include:
- Physical Custody
- Legal Custody
The term “physical custody” is typically used to describe the right for a child to live with a parent while “legal custody” typically refers to the parent’s ability to make decisions about the child’s upbringing1.
Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody
Legal custody and physical custody are usually designated as either sole custody or joint custody.
With sole custody, only one parent has the responsibility of physical custody, legal custody or both.
With joint custody, the parents share the responsibility of physical custody, legal custody or both.
It is important to note, legal custody is often designated as joint legal custody so the parents may share in the decision making process for schooling, healthcare and religious upbringing. Courts do not typically award sole legal custody of a child unless there are extreme circumstances2.
With physical custody however, courts may choose to award just one parent sole physical custody if the other parent is deemed unfit due to alcohol abuse, drug abuse, domestic violence, or proof of child neglect.