In the instance of a divorce, the most important decision to be made is the decision regarding the child’s future. In a child custody case, there are five different kinds of child custody decisions that can be awarded by the court, divided into two categories: legal custody and physical custody. Each of these results in different outcomes for the parents. If you find yourself in the middle of a child custody battle, it is important to know the different outcomes to expect and what they could mean for your family’s future.

Legal Custody:

This is the custody settlement that determines who will make the decisions for the child’s life moving forward.

Sole legal custody

If a judge grants sole legal custody, they are determining that one parent is more fit to make the major decisions for the child’s future. The other parent will often still have access to visitation rights, but when it comes to the child’s education, medical care, religion, and more, the parent granted sole custody will make those decisions for the child.

It is often preferred by states that, if possible, parents share legal custody of the child. But in instances of one parent being less present in the child’s life or in cases of substance abuse or addiction, the parent better fit to take that role will be granted sole legal custody.

Joint legal custody

In cases where both parents are equally present and responsible in a child’s life, the court will recommend joint legal custody and allow for both parties to continue making decisions for the child’s future.

If awarded joint legal custody, parents must be willing to stay in constant communication with each other, which can prove difficult for some separated couples. However, this type of legal custody often proves to be beneficial for the child to see their parents cooperating for their benefit.

Physical Custody:

Physical custody determines where and with whom the child will live. This is separate from the result in the legal custody decision.

Sole physical custody

This ruling determines the parent with which the child will solely reside. While difficult for the losing party, this outcome usually benefits the child by providing a stable environment for their childhood.

If one parent is granted sole physical custody, there are many cases where the other parent will be allowed visitation rights and can still play a large role in their child’s life. It is also common for the other parent to be granted joint legal custody, even though the child is solely living with the other parent.

Joint physical custody

Also known as shared custody, joint physical custody determines that the child will live with both parents, usually rotating per a set routine. This does not have to be split completely equally, but the goal is usually for the child to split their time half and half.

If the parents live far away, distance can be a factor in which party the child lives with more. This outcome can be inconvenient at times, but if both parents are willing to cooperate and be flexible with the living schedule, it can work out for all parties involved.

Bird’s nest custody

While a relatively new custody arrangement (and an uncommon one), bird’s nest custody is beginning to gain notoriety as a new way to establish child custody within a divorce case. This type of custody benefits the child in allowing them to live in the same house year-round. The only difference is that this time, the parents must routinely move in and out of the house according to the determined schedule.

This arrangement may be more difficult for parents, especially those who live further away, but it provides a consistent living environment for the child and limits any disruption in their lifestyle.

At Von Esch Family Law, we offer exceptional family law services, such as cases dealing with domestic abuse, divorce, custody and support, property and business division, and spousal support. In cases of child custody, we will fight to make sure you receive the rights you deserve when it comes to your child’s well-being. We believe that the child always comes first, and child custody cases are of the utmost importance. Let us represent you and we will fight for the best result for you and your family. Contact us today for a family law consultation.