Types of Custody

Types of Custody

Types of Custody in Divorce

Physical custody: This legal term refers to where the child will physically reside and addresses the parenting time allocated between parents.

Primary Physical Custody: The primary physical custodian is the parent having the child for the majority of time.

Secondary Physical Custody: This legal term is interchangeable with “visitation” and refers to where the child will reside for part-time, generally a lesser amount of time than that of the parent with primary physical custody.

Joint Physical Custody: This refers to a plan where the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent. Joint Physical Custody may mean the parents alternate weeks or develop some other form of division. Georgia law does not mandate any certain allocation of parenting time. For a court to approve joint legal custody, parties should be able to show they can co-parent well and will live in close proximity to one another. Courts are sometimes skeptical of these plans as it may hamper the child’s ability to develop a stable home and friendship base while constantly moving back and forth.

Legal Custody: This legal term refers to rights given to parents to make important decisions concerned with raising the child, which includes healthcare decisions, religion, extracurricular, and education. It also permits a parent to have full access to information.

Joint Legal Custody: This is the preferred default setting for a court order. Most judges and courts believe the child is best served when the parents share in making decisions for the children. There are methods which are commonly used to help the parties determine how to handle issues when they cannot agree on an important decision. Simple day to day decisions are made by the parent who has the child with them at the time. An experienced attorney can assist you through this element of the custody arrangement.

Sole Custody: This is where the court awards both legal custody and physical custody permanently to one parent. Under this situation the parent with sole custody has all the rights and obligations of the child and the other parent normally has visitation. This is a rare event as Georgia law promotes a meaningful and significant relationship with both parents. This type of custody is generally reserved for extreme issues such as physical or substance abuse.