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What Are the Different Types of Child Custody?

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 24-Apr-2014

When spouses who have children together get divorced, they need to draw up child custody agreements that clearly define who the children will live with, how much time each parent will get with the children, who will make important decisions in the children's lives, etc. Once this custody agreement is drawn up, it can be included as part of the spouses' divorce agreement.

In order to make important decisions concerning child custody, you need to first understand how it works. There are two basic types of custody that need to be considered: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines which parent a child will reside with (as well as which parent has the right to take the child into his or her custody). When one parent has primary or sole custody, the other parent will usually get visitation time. Legal custody determines which parent gets to making key decisions in the child's life, such as decisions about education, healthcare, childcare, etc. For a more thorough breakdown of physical and legal custody, read the information below.

Physical Custody

Sole Custody—The child only resides with one parent. This parent has full physical custody of the child at all times.

Primary Custody—The parent with primary gets the child the majority of the time.

Partial Custody—The parent with partial custody gets the child for a minority of the time (such as just on weekends of every other weekend).

Shared custody—The parents have equal right to take the child, with each parent getting a significant amount of time with the child.

Legal Custody

Sole Custody—Only one parent has the right to make important decisions concerning the child.

Shared Custody—Both parents have decision making power in the child's life.

Once you and your spouse decide what type of custody you want to establish, you should work out the smaller details, such as specific schedules, who will be responsible for transporting the child, who will get the child on certain holidays and school breaks, etc. Having this clearly laid out from the start will inevitably help you and your child's other parent minimize conflicts down the road concerning these issues.

Our law firm, Cairns Law Offices, assists clients with no-fault, uncontested divorces. If you are filing for this type of divorce and you and your spouse both agree on the child custody arrangements, our Pennsylvania uncontested divorce attorney can help you get your custody agreement formally established as part of your divorce. We do not, however, handle custody battles or other types of legal issues related to child custody. Contact Cairns Law Offices to learn more about how we help you!