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What do different types of child custody mean for your family?

As a parent, one of your main concerns during a divorce is making sure your child has the support and stability he or she needs. In many cases, this means allowing minor children to maintain strong relationships with both parents after a divorce. There are different types of child custody, and the right choice for you depends on the needs of your family, the best interests of the children and your parental rights.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to child custody. What will work for your family may not work for others, and that is why it’s critical to pursue solutions that are sustainable long-term. As you consider your custody and visitation options, it may be helpful to know about the different types of custody and how you can make the right choices for your North Carolina family.

Differences between legal and physical custody

There are two different types of custody that are important in any parenting or visitation plan, legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make important decisions for the child. This includes things pertaining to education, religious upbringing, health care and more. If parents share legal custody, they will have to work together to make good choices for their child.

Physical custody refers to the actual time the parent will spend with the child. This includes weekends, holidays, vacations and more. Parents often decide to share joint physical custody to allow their kids to have strong relationships with both of them and as much continuity of lifestyle as possible.

What’s best?

It is possible for one parent to retain sole legal custody while sharing physical custody and vice versa. The right solution for your family depends on the details of your individual and unique situation. Parents retain the right to decide on the terms of their agreement, even though everything is subject to the approval of a family court.

There is widespread agreement that it is best for kids to have access to both parents after a divorce, but there are times when this is not possible for various reasons. This may result in one parent having sole legal and physical custody. The non-custodial parent would likely be responsible for paying child support even if he or she does not have custody or visitation rights.

Good solutions that will last

It is not easy to make custody decisions. This is an emotionally charged and complex issue to address, which is why you will find it helpful to work with a legal ally who has your best interests as the objective. Working with a family law attorney can ensure you are able to reach good solutions that will endure the test of time.