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A Look at the Types of Child Custody

Last updated 5 years ago

In the event of a divorce, a couple with children will strive to reach an agreement regarding child custody and visitation. A family law attorney can help you work out the most favorable agreement for your unique family situation. Overall, there are four facets of custody that parents can debate over, but they are best looked at in pairs. Here is a look at physical, legal, sole, and joint custody:

Physical vs. Legal Custody

As the name signifies, the type of custody determines what type of control a parent has over his or her child. Physical custody identifies the place where a child will live the majority of the time. This can also be known as residential custody. Meanwhile, legal custody is the big-picture decision-making power granted to one parent versus the other. This enables a parent to make choices regarding a child’s education, religious upbringing, and medical decisions. The parent holding legal custody is often the one also holding physical custody – but these arrangements vary from family to family.

Sole vs. Joint Custody

When most couples think of custody, they think of sharing time with the children. Joint custody means splitting the week among the spouses, while sole custody does not. However, time spent with a parent occurs within the framework of legal and physical custody. For instance, if a parent has sole custody, he or she often has the power to make both physical and legal choices for the child. Meanwhile, a parent can also have sole physical but joint legal custody agreements with his or her former spouse. Each family’s situation is different – and arrangements can be changed based on the needs of the children overtime.

Child custody is one of the most contentious post-divorce issues that couples must work out. Moreno Family Law is a law firm in San Jose dedicated to helping former spouses come to agreements about all family law issues. Call (408) 266-9011 today to schedule a free initial appointment with a member of our staff.


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.


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