It might be easy to understand what child custody means when explained in plain language, but the legal terms associated with it can be quite confusing. Taking help from Strategic Family Lawyers can make it easy to navigate through the process by understanding the difference between joint custody and legal custody from a legal perspective. Knowing the implications of the types of custody will help you to decide which type will be beneficial for you.
Here the types of child custody that you will generally come across.
We often hear that the court grants physical custody of the child to a parent, and it is the most common type of custody awarded in most cases. When the court grants physical custody of a child to the parent, it warrants them to have the child with him or her all along until it becomes an adult. Some states allow joint physical custody when the child shares the time between the parents as mutually agreed and accepted by the court. A court gives joint physical custody only when the parents live in proximity that makes it easy for the child to hop between them. When parents live far away, the court may award physical custody to nay one of the parents by considering the strain that the child must undergo in reaching out to the parents.
Legal custody of a child means that the parent has the legal authority to make decisions related to the child’s upbringing, education, and health. The parent who has the legal custody of the child has the right to decide the religion that the child will follow, which school the child must go to, and the type of medical care that the child needs. The legal custody might rest upon a single parent or like in some states both the parents share it, which is then known as joint legal custody. In the latter case, the cooperation of the parents is critical to make the process work and benefit the child. If any of the parents violates the condition of the joint custody, then the other parent can seek redressal from the court.
When one of the parents is unfit for upbringing the child, then the court awards sole custody to the other parent who gets the physical custody of the child. Sole custody is often awarded in divorce proceedings if one of the parents is unfit due to drug or alcohol problems or financially unable to support the child. If the new partner of one of the parents is found unfit, then the child’s custody passes on to the other parent who becomes the sole custodian of the child.
Despite living separately, if the parents of the child agree to share the responsibilities of bringing up the child by making decisions that benefit the child and even keeping the child with them on a sharing basis, then it is known as joint custody. Joint custody can be legal, physical, or a hybrid of both.
Usually, couples who share the physical custody share the legal custody too and take joint decisions about the child.