While many people understand what is meant by the term child custody, there is more than one type of custody. For instance, if a parent has physical custody of a child, the son or daughter may spend time at his or her parent's house. In some cases, both parents will be granted physical custody of a child. However, this generally only occurs if the parents live close to each other.
If a parent has legal custody of the child, that means that he or she is able to make most or all decisions for that child. In other words, that parent will decide where the child goes to school, what religion he or she will practice and what type of medical care the son or daughter should receive. It is common for a judge to award joint legal custody and ask that the parents work together to raise their kids.
Depending on the circumstances of a case, a parent could have sole legal custody while sharing physical custody. It is also possible for a parent to have sole physical custody while sharing legal custody of a child. A decision regarding custody will always be made with the child's needs in mind, and parents are urged to do the same when negotiating a custody arrangement with their former spouse or partner.
Parents who are seeking physical or legal child custody might decide to talk to an attorney. This may make it easier to establish that having custody is in the best interest of the child. Legal counsel may help establish that a parent has the ability to care for a child regardless of where he or she lives and should be able to have a relationship with him or her.