What is child custody?
As you hammer out the details of dividing up time with your children as you and your ex begin to finalize everything and draw up the necessary paperwork, it’s a good idea to know exactly what different types of custody mean. Signing something or agreeing to anything without knowing the terms of that agreement or having a fuzzy understanding of things is going severely increase the chances that the outcome will not be exactly what you had in mind when you signed on the dotted line. As I stress in all these posts, educate yourself. If you’re opting out of the court room setting and settling things between the two of you, it’s easy to overlook something. It’s unfortunate but true in some cases that people can get taken advantage of. Here are some terms that are thrown around a lot in family legal issues:
Legal Custody. If you or the other parent has legal custody of your kids this means you, or they, are the primary decision maker in their lives. This means deciding what doctor they see. What school district is best for them, where they go to day care etc.
Physical Custody. Having physical custody of your child means they live at your house and spend the majority of their time in your care. Fathers or mothers in these kinds of situations will commonly have some sort of visitation schedule to spend time with the kids. It’s important not to lose sight of the family unit that goes into raising children. Having primary custody of your child doesn’t mean they don’t need the other parent.
Joint Custody. This is really the outcome that brings about the greatest well being within a family. In order for this to work however, it’s imperative that you get along with your ex. Maintaining a strong relationship between the other parent, regardless of the differences that split the two of you up, will give your kids the stability their lives need and also help build solid relationships between all of you.
There is a lot of information out there for newly separated parents, single parents or anyone needing more resources concerning the well being of their family. As you decide the best schedule or means of keeping the family running as smooth as possible after your separation, lawyers and legal forms can be intimidating but there’s nothing in the rule book that says you can’t do your homework before you come to class. Here’s a helpful link to a website with a large amount of legal definitions concerning family law.
There’s an old saying that you should talk less and say more. Making these kinds of decisions can be hard. Know in your heart and your mind exactly what’s going on before you do anything that wasn’t given a fair amount of thought.
- Child Custody in a Divorce (aboutthechildrenblog.com)