Understanding the Types of Child Custody

When you begin a divorce process, the situation is not likely to be an enjoyable one. When children are involved, the process becomes even more emotional. We understand that there may be some things you’ve never had to think of before when it comes to custody of a child. After all, nobody plans divorces in advance.

At The Ault Firm, we want you to understand the basics of child custody. We also want you to know that our child custody attorneys in Salt Lake City are ready to help you through what will certainly be a tough time. In this article, we want to cover the basic terminology when it comes to child custody so you have the right knowledge moving forward.

Not All Custody is the Same

You may have heard other people ask parents who have been through a divorce, “So, who has custody of the child?”
The answer to that is not as simple as saying one parent or the other. Often, the answer is going to be, “It depends.”

It depends because we need to draw a distinction between to types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the legal authority over the major decisions in the child’s life. Examples of this include where the child goes to school, what religion they are to be raised in (if any at all), as well as non-emergent medical decisions.

When it comes to legal custody, there can be sole legal custody or joint legal custody. With sole legal custody, only one parent is responsible for making these decisions on behalf of the child. With joint legal custody, both parents have the legal authority to make these decisions.

Physical Custody

Physical custody pertains to where the child will live most of the time. With this type of custody, we again see two types: sole physical custody and joint physical custody.

Sole physical custody means that the child resides at one physical location with the parent granted custody. The parent who does not have sole physical custody is typically granted visitation rights that are agreed upon during court proceedings.

Joint physical custody is also called shared custody. In this situation, the child typically lives with one parent for some of the week (or month/year, depending on what was decided in court) and they live with the other parent for the duration of the time. Usually, the time the child spends with each parent is equal.

What To Do

Dealing with child custody can be confusing. It should be noted that sometimes parents have joint physical custody, but there is a sole physical custody parent, so the situation can become even more complicated.

At the Ault Firm, we want to do everything we can do to make this time easier on you and your child. We will help you navigate the terminology and courts to get the best possible resolution for everyone involved. If you need a child custody attorney in Salt Lake City, please contact us by clicking here or calling 801-539-9000.