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What is Child Custody? 2 Main Types of It

Child custody

When two parents are no longer able to live together, they must decide what is best for their children. This often involves child custody arrangements. Parents might be concerned about who will get custody of their children and what that will mean for their future.

This blog post will provide an overview of child custody and answer some common questions about the process. Child custody can be a difficult process, but it is important to remember that the best interests of the child always come first.

How is the Custodianship of a Child Decided in the US Courts?

The custody of children following divorce is handled by the states rather than the federal government in the United States. Each state and the District of Columbia (the capital city) has its own legislation. The laws of states are generally comparable.

The best interests of the kid must be considered when deciding child custody following a divorce between parents. Fathers and mothers are required by law to be treated equally. Neither parent has an inherent preference for custody of kids based on the gender of the parent.
The “Tender Years Doctrine,” which was in place until the 1960s or 1970s, gave mothers automatic custody as long as they were fit. Following that period, equality concepts rose in the United States in several areas, including divorce battles and the workplace.

What Is Child Custody?

child custody

Child custody, or legal custody, is a state law determination of which parent can legally make decisions on behalf of a child. It includes both physical and legal responsibility for the child’s welfare and upbringing. In the most common type of child custody, one parent will have physical custody where they live, while the other parent has visitation or time to spend with their children every week or every other week depending on what was decided in court.

In some cases where there is a high-conflict situation, parents may not be able to agree, so it might go through court and a judge will decide for them what would be best for their children.


Technically, there are two terms that may be used- “legal custody” and “physical custody”. Physical means that one person will care for an individual day-to-day as part of a shared parenting arrangement. Legal means that a person has been given rights over another person’s affairs because they have been appointed as their guardian – usually by a judge.

Legal Custody:

Legal custody is the right to make decisions for a child, such as those related to their education and healthcare. Joint legal custody means that both parents share this authority and responsibility, while sole legal custody gives one parent the power to make all major decisions for a child.

The Court can order joint legal custody if it is in the best interest of the child even if one parent does not want it; however, such cases are typically rare and happen only when there are unusual circumstances such as unfit or negligent parents or abuse allegations.

Physical Custody:

Physical custody is a term used to describe the parenting time in which one parent has sole responsibility for the physical wellbeing of their children. It is not part of divorce proceedings but is determined by family courts separately.

A court will grant physical custody if one parent cannot provide adequate care for reasons such as illness or disability. Physical custody can either be with one or both parents, depending on what the courts deems appropriate in any given situation.

In private custody proceedings in the United States, a court may award joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or sole legal and/or physical custody. One of the advantages that joint legal and sole physical custody have in common is that they ensure a child spends regular time with each parent according to an agreed-upon schedule.

Making parenting time arrangements is important for all types of families because it helps kids feel connected to both parents throughout their lives.

In most cases when children are removed from one parent by the other parent through divorce or separation, they continue living primarily with one set of parents while having contact visits with the second set of parents on a regular basis.

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