When you and your spouse opt to get a divorce, your first conversation will likely be about the children. Who gets custody? How are you going to make decisions if you can’t agree on something? How will you both stay involved in their lives?
The general idea of dividing custody sounds like it’s a simple, one-element decision: You either share custody or one of you gets custody, and the other does not. But there are actually two different types of custody to divide up.
Physical custody: Where will your children live?
First off, the parent who is physically with the children has physical custody of them. This is often split between both parents. If you have an every-other-week schedule, for instance, you and your ex alternate weeks with the children at your house. Things like visitation and supervised visits are also elements of physical custody.
Legal custody: Who can make decisions?
The other type of custody involves making decisions and choices for your children. This could include things like where your children go to school, which doctor they visit, what religion they’re a part of and what types of vaccines they get. Parents have the right to make legal, medical and financial decisions for their children, and this can also be divided between both parents or given only to one.
Your rights moving forward
Dividing custody is just one step in a divorce. If you and your spouse are going to end your marriage, it is important that you know exactly what steps to take, what to expect and what rights you have. Your family’s future hangs in the balance.