Understanding the different types of child custody

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2023 | Family Law |

There is no single child custody arrangement that will work for every family after a divorce. While the parents’ marriage may be over, the children will likely remain the focus of both parents. You and your soon-to-be ex may be able to work together to create a custody and visitation arrangement that allows your children to maintain a strong relationship with both parents. This could be beneficial for the mental and emotional health of your children. 

While you know that you want to create a custody and visitation strategy that is best for your kids, you may not be completely certain as to how you accomplish this. That is why it is important for you to know your custody rights and understand the different types of child custody. This preparation can allow you to effectively pursue a beneficial and meaningful outcome. 

Legal custody versus physical custody 

There are two primary types of child custody — legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody refers to the amount of time you will have with your children, including holidays, weekends and more. Legal custody refers to the right that you have to make important decisions for your children, including educational decisions, religious upbringing choices, healthcare options and more. It is possible for parents to share legal and physical custody, or for one parent to retain one or both. 

Sole custody versus joint custody 

In a sole custody arrangement, one parent will retain physical custody and/or legal custody. Typically, courts prefer joint custody, but sole custody is an option in situations where it is clear that one parent cannot effectively care for the children. In a joint custody arrangement, North Carolina parents will share custody, allowing the children to maintain strong relationships with both parents. It is important to remember that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal custody. 

What will work for your family? 

When making custody decisions, it is beneficial to consider what will be beneficial for your family long-term. While it is normal for emotions to run high during divorce, feelings are rarely good indicators of what will be sustainable long-term. As you consider your options, you will benefit from seeking knowledgeable insight and guidance for these critical decisions. Your parental rights and the interests of your kids are on the line, but you do not have to walk through this process alone.