What about the custody of our children?

First, there are two types of custody: Legal and Physical. Legal custody is generally the right of a parent to have input as to the educational, religious, and medical decisions regarding the children. Physical custody concerns the actual physical care of the children (i.e. where they live). 

In most situations, parents are awarded joint legal custody wherein both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child even though the child’s primary residence may be with only one parent.[1]   Sole legal custody is usually only awarded when one parent is wholly absent from the children’s life or is seriously detrimental to the children; however, if so awarded, the parent with sole legal custody will have the only say in raising the child. 

As to physical custody, the Code defines it as either joint or sole; however, Courts typically further define it as four types: (1) Sole; (2) Primary; (3) Shared or Joint; and (4) Split. Sole physical custody is similar to sole legal custody – the parent with sole custody has total custody of the child. Primary physical custody is where the children reside with one parent and the other parent receives less than 90 days visitation a year. This designation primarily affects child support calculations. Shared or Joint custody is where the parties share time with the children more than 90 days a year (varying from 91 days to 50/50). Again, this affects child support calculations. Lastly, there is Split Custody which is where parents split custody of multiple children.

Kellam T. Parks
Managing Member of Parks Zeigler, PLLC