Understanding Child Custody Terminology
Child custody has many nuances. It can be confusing to hear the many terms used for the different "types" of custody and know the difference. Below discusses some of the child custody terms utilized by the court system.
Sole Custody v. Residential/Physical Custody
Clients often inquire about being awarded sole custody. The reality is that absent a parent being declared unfit or a child is in danger, sole residential and legal custody is not awarded. Courts prefer that BOTH parents are involved and believe that a child benefits from its relationship with BOTH parents.
I notice that the term "sole custody" is often misused when a parent is seeking to be declared the primary residential parent. The residential parent is the parent whom the child will live with most of the time. On the other hand sole custody means only one parent has both residential and legal custody. Sole residential/physical AND legal custody is rarely awarded to one parent. However, there are situations which warrant one parent be awarded both sole residential/physical and legal custody. In these rare cases an experienced child custody attorney will know what evidence is needed to present to the Court.
Legal custody refers to the decision-making rights regarding education, medical, religious, and other important decision for a child. While every family is different, most courts order that parents have joint legal custody. When a court awards both parents joint legal custody they want both parents to have the same decision-making power. Although it is often perceived this way, residential/physical custody does not increase a parent's legal decision making rights.
Best Interest Factors
When parties to a custody or divorce action cannot reach an agreement regarding residential/physical custody, then the Court must decide. In Kentucky a Court examines several factors in determining what is in the best interest of the child. Some factors include the wishes of the child, the child's adjustment to home, school, and community, as well as the mental and physical health of all parties involved.
If you are seeking a divorce or have questions regarding child custody that you need answered please call us at 859-982-9557 or email [email protected]