If you and your child’s other parent have decided to go your separate ways, you are likely preoccupied with thoughts of what the future may hold for you and your child. It is important for you to understand the various child custody options available for your family. If you and your co-parent cannot mutually decide on which option is best for your evolving family, a judge will be compelled to make that decision in what he or she believes is your child’s best interest.
There are two kinds of child custody and numerous kinds of potential custody arrangements. In terms of child custody, decisions must be made in regards to legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves decision-making power over major aspects of your child’s life. Physical custody refers to a parent’s recognized right to care for children on a day-to-day basis and have those children live with him or her.
If you will be your child’s only caretaker and your child’s other parent will not be a presence in his or her life, you will likely seek to ask for sole legal and physical custody of your child.
If you plan to have your child live with you full-time save for minor visitation by the other parent, but the other parent wishes to retain decision-making authority, perhaps sole physical custody and joint legal custody may work best for your family.
Finally, if you and your co-parent both wish to remain actively involved in your child’s life and wish to have your child split time between your two homes, joint legal and physical custody may be the best option for you.
Source: American Bar Association, “Deciding Factors in Awarding Child Custody”