What are the Different Types of Custody Agreements?

B. Miller
B. Miller
Both parents are allowed equal time with children during a joint physical custody.
Both parents are allowed equal time with children during a joint physical custody.

When a couple with children chooses to divorce, it will be necessary to determine child custody agreements. Primarily, there are two types of custody that are discussed in court, and will be agreed to with the help of lawyers: physical custody and legal custody. Within each of those two custody agreements, it will need to be determined if parents will have joint custody, or if one parent will have sole custody.

Legal custody refers to the determination of who will make decisions for the child.
Legal custody refers to the determination of who will make decisions for the child.

Within custody agreements, it does not necessarily need to be the same for both types of custody. For example, one parent might have sole physical custody, but the parents might share legal custody jointly. Again, this is something that will need to be worked out with the help of divorce attorneys, and will be written into the divorce settlement agreement. If one parent does not abide by the divorce settlement agreement, the other parent has the option to take him or her back to court.

The granting of sole custody does not mean that the non-custodial parent will not have an ongoing interaction with the child.
The granting of sole custody does not mean that the non-custodial parent will not have an ongoing interaction with the child.

Physical custody is the first half of custody agreements. It refers to the right of the parent to have the child live with him or her. If a child only lives with one parent and occasionally visits the other, this may be a case of sole physical custody with visitation rights. If, however, the child splits his or her time living with both parents, this will be referred to as joint physical custody. Though the latter is somewhat more common, each individual case is different. Of course, there is also the case in which the other parent is not allowed visitation, in which case sole physical custody will be given to the other parent.

Mediation may help divorcing partners come to an agreement about child custody arrangements.
Mediation may help divorcing partners come to an agreement about child custody arrangements.

Of course, within physical custody agreements, there are many nuances that parents will have to work out. For example, children might spend weekdays with one parent and weekends with another; the school year with one parent and the summer with another; or even specific days during the week with different parents. It depends on each person's individual situation, and the proximity that parents live to each other.

A father may be granted sole custody of his child if the mother is deemed to be mentally unstable.
A father may be granted sole custody of his child if the mother is deemed to be mentally unstable.

The next part of custody agreements is legal custody. This refers to the right of the parent or parents to make legal decisions regarding the child, usually in reference to schooling choices, religious upbringing, and medical care. Again, parents may be awarded joint legal custody, or one parent may be given sole legal custody, depending on a number of factors. When working out custody agreements, it is always best to put the needs and best interest of the children first.

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    • Both parents are allowed equal time with children during a joint physical custody.
      By: Tatyana Gladskih
      Both parents are allowed equal time with children during a joint physical custody.
    • Legal custody refers to the determination of who will make decisions for the child.
      By: Pictures news
      Legal custody refers to the determination of who will make decisions for the child.
    • The granting of sole custody does not mean that the non-custodial parent will not have an ongoing interaction with the child.
      By: TAGSTOCK2
      The granting of sole custody does not mean that the non-custodial parent will not have an ongoing interaction with the child.
    • Mediation may help divorcing partners come to an agreement about child custody arrangements.
      By: Africa Studio
      Mediation may help divorcing partners come to an agreement about child custody arrangements.
    • A father may be granted sole custody of his child if the mother is deemed to be mentally unstable.
      By: Monkey Business
      A father may be granted sole custody of his child if the mother is deemed to be mentally unstable.