by Brooke Thompson
When people come into my office, a common request is “I want sole custody” or “I want primary custody.” But what does that really mean?
To start, there are two basic types of custody: legal custody and physical care. Legal custody relates to the right to information as well as the responsibilities of decision making regarding the child. This includes medical, education, religious and other major life decisions regarding the child. Physical care, on the other hand, is the amount of time each parent has with the child and who the child will live with.
Joint legal custody gives both parents equal rights regarding those important decisions relating to the child. Sole legal custody means one parent gets to make the important decisions alone. Sole legal custody is reserved for only the most serious cases where there is a true need for one parent to make decisions.
Joint physical care (also called shared care) means that the child spends roughly equal time at both parents’ homes while primary physical care means the child primarily resides in one home and the other parent has parenting time with the child. Also, the parents split expenses equally with joint physical care. The primary parent pays most of the expenses (and receives more child support) when primary care is in place.
The “right” kind of custody for each family is different. More importantly, there is not a singular parenting plan that works for every family. The schedule that will work for you and your family is different than other families, and that is okay! My greatest rewards are helping each family find what is going to work for them going forward. Please reach out to discuss the right kind of custody for you and your family at 515-809-9699.