During a divorce, the custody of your children is broken down to two elements: legal custody and physical custody. It is not uncommon for these two custody decisions to be decided separately, where parents may have joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody. Each type of custody refers to a different role and right to participate in the child’s life. If the parents do not come to a consensus or agree on a custody arrangement, the court will ultimately make the decision in the best interests of the child.
Physical custody determines where the child(ren) are actually going to physically live. This includes weekends, vacations, holidays, week days and other activities. This type of custody can often be awarded to both parents called, joint physical custody. If it is not granted to both parents, then physical custody is vested in one parent, and the non-custodial parent is granted visitation. There are two main types of Physical custody, joint and primary.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody is generally presumed to be in the best interests of the child. In this scenario, the child lives with each parent at different times, making it easier for the parents to stay in physical contact with their child. This does not necessarily mean that each parent receives 50/50 physical custody as one parent is usually considered the primary custodial parent. Equal time does not have to be spent at each household, and generally fall along the lines of 60/40.
Primary Physical Custody
Primary physical custody (or sole custody) details when the child will live with one parent most of the time and only visit the other parent. Generally, one parent has physical custody over a minor for more than 40% of the year, with the other parent being granted supervised or unsupervised visitation. The parent without physical custody may be responsible for paying child support.
Having legal custody over your child grants the parent(s) the authority to make important decisions about their child’s life. A parent or guardian who is awarded with legal custody is responsible for making all major legal decisions such as:
- Health and medical decisions
- Education or academic decisions
- Religious upbringing and practices
Joint Legal Custody
Similar to physical custody, there are two basic types of legal custody, joint and sole and/or informational. When parents share joint legal custody, they must consult each other when making major decisions regarding the child. In this case of custody, both parents must be cooperative, willing to communicate and compromise over the best interests of the child. As joint legal custodians, each parent has access to all of the child’s school and medical records.
Sole Legal Custody
Typically, legal custody is awarded to both parents and sole legal custody is rarely awarded. In cases where it is awarded, those with sole legal custody have all the decision-making powers. Sole legal custody is granted when a parent demonstrates that they are not fit to be in the child’s life or make any decisions involving their welfare.
Informational Legal Custody
In certain cases, the Court may award one parent informational legal custody. Informational legal custody allows a parent to be kept updated regarding their child(ren)’s education, health and other related information. The parent with informational legal custody does not have the ability to make decisions regarding all aspects of legal custody.
Speak With an Experienced Nevada Child Custody Lawyer
If you are expecting or are in a divorce it is time to start considering custody. The type of custody you have may impact the child support each parent is required to receive or pay. For more information on child custody, speak to an experienced child custody lawyer. If you have any questions, chat with Erin Grieve, family lawyer in Reno, NV.