Child custody refers to the rights and obligations between parents, regarding their children, after a divorce, legal separation, or paternity decree. There are two independent types of custody.
Physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent is permitted physically with a child. This may be sole, primary, or joint custody.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s decision-making rights regarding a child’s health, education, and welfare. It, too, may be sole, primary, or joint custody.
Often, the Court designates one parent as the primary physical custodian, giving the other parent a schedule of temporary custody and visitation. In some cases, however, the Court orders a joint legal and physical custody, by which, both parents have substantial access to their children.
The Court’s decision in a particular case is based upon, among other things, the child’s wishes, each parent’s historical nurturing role, and the relative circumstances of the parties going into the future.