There are different types of child custody agreements. Knowing which is the most appropriate for you can be difficult unless you let a family lawyer help you decide. While you may have a vague idea of what child custody is, you may not be aware of all the different types of child custody at your disposal. To enlighten you, below is a list of various types of child custody agreements.
1. Physical Custody
This is the most understood type of child custody. Being granted child custody by a legal institution means you have the right to live with that child. In some states, a court may award joint physical custody where the child stays with the mother and the father for extended periods at a time. For a court to consider joint physical custody, the parents must live relatively close to one another.
However, if the parents live far apart, the court may award sole physical custody to one of the parents to avoid exerting undue strain on a child. Sole physical custody refers to a situation where one of the parents lives with the child while the other gets limited visitation rights.
2. Legal Custody
Getting legal custody means you have the right to make decisions for your child. Such decisions include health, upbringing, and education. You can decide which school your child will go to, the type of Medicare for your child, and even the religion your child should practice.
A court may award a joint legal custody of a child, in which case both parents have to decide together how to bring up and educate their child. Should one of the parents make unilateral decisions about the child without involving the other, the other parent can go to court seeking for the enforcement of the joint legal custody order.
3. Sole Custody
While in most cases a joint custody is the best option, there are instances when a judge can award exclusive possession to one of the parents. A judge can grant sole physical custody to one parent if the other is unfit due to drug or financial difficulties. Another reason for awarding sole custody to a parent could be if the other parent has started living with a new partner who is deemed unfit to care for the child.
4. Joint Custody
As noted above, in an ideal situation, a joint custody agreement is the best for a child. In such a case, both parents take joint responsibility for the welfare of the child. The two parents jointly make decisions about the child’s welfare. Joint custody can be either joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or both. In most cases, a joint physical custody presupposes joint legal custody as well.
5. Joint Custody Arrangement
A joint custody agreement, also known as a parenting agreement, is drawn up and presented to a judge for ratification. Depending on daily commitments such as the child’s needs, school schedule, and the parents’ work schedules, a joint parenting agreement clearly stipulates the responsibility of each parent over the child. The agreement also stipulates who stays with the child and for how long.
Settling on one type of child custody over the others can be a difficult task. However, a family lawyer can help you decide which type of child custody to go for. It is important to understand that each type of child custody is unique. A family lawyer understands the strengths and weaknesses of each and can help you choose the most appropriate.
The important thing to keep in mind is that a judge will always look out for the best interests of the child. Once you establish which child custody type best serves the interests of your child, you can go ahead and sign the custody agreement.