Child Custody comes in two forms, physical custody and legal custody.
1. Physical Child Custody–
Joint physical custody is having frequent and continuous contact with the child. A major misconception is when people confuse physical custody with visitation. You can have joint physical custody but have alternate weekend visitation or visitation as low as 15%. Having joint physical custody is irrelevant of the visitation time you have with the child and joint physical custody does not mean 50/50. Joint physical custody means that you do not have sole physical custody in which case there are restrictions in place on how often you can see your child and under what conditions.
Sole Physical Custody–
When one parent has sole physical custody then usually there has been a case of abuse, neglect, or drug and alcohol abuse that placed the child in a dangerous situation. In this case, the courts find it to be in the best interest of the child to have limited contact with the other parent and sometimes when there is contact to have that contact supervised. There are professional supervisors hired to monitor the parent with the child. Typically, this is true for cases of physical abuse and severe drug and alcohol abuse. A lot of times, the Department of Child and Family Services will become involved and make a recommendation to a parent to seek sole physical and legal custody. In certain situations of severe abuse the Department of Child and Family Services will actually write out a recommendation for the judge to give the other parent full sole legal and physical custody as they find the other parent to be so neglectful.
2. Legal Custody
Legal Custody is custody over the decision making over the education, health and welfare of the child. The court usually provides joint legal custody, even if a parent has sole physical custody there is usually joint legal custody. That is because the court removes the decision making over the child and the physical custody they have essentially taken the parental rights away. And there is less harm to a child through joint legal custody since it does not entail physical contact but simply decision making as to health, education and welfare.
Essentially, the court’s evaluate the “child’s best interest” when determining a custody plan. The court’s do not care how one parent feels about the other parent or what you believe to be best, but they want to see facts, and evidence that would support your allegation and contention that sole custody would be best.
The Atighechi Law Group handles many custody cases, in fact, it is the area of law in which this practice was founded on. We have a vast array of experience and are confident that we could be of assistance to you.