Child Custody is one of the more stressful areas of divorce. Parents are often fearful of being cut out of their children’s lives, not having a say in how they are raised, or simply not having enough time with them. As with other areas of divorce, most matters of child care can be negotiated, with custody consisting of two main categories.
Legal Custody may be either joint or sole custody and refers to the decision-making rights of each parent. This may include:
Joint legal custody means that both parents share equally in the upbringing decisions of the children. This does not mean that the parents must agree on every issue that may arise, but rather that each parent has the right to make these decisions on their own. Therefore joint legal custody may work only when both parents are cooperative with one another.
Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the right to make these decisions.
Physical Custody refers to where and for how much time, the children will live with each parent. Physical custody may also be considered either joint or sole custody, but unlike legal custody, there is a wider range of negotiations that can be made.
Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split of equal time between the parents. Many times, because of scheduling issues, parents agree to something more along the lines of a 60/40 split of time. Because both parents have the children a significant amount of time, this is still considered a joint custody arrangement.
Sole physical custody is when the children live with only one parent for a significant amount of time and usually have visitation with the other parent.
While it is always best for parents to negotiate an agreement on how and who will raise the children, this isn’t always possible for parents to do on their own. A skilled attorney can help you through the mediation process and if necessary represent you through litigation. For more information about divorce litigation and child custody issues, please contact us at the Law & Mediation Offices of Diane J.N. Morin.