Understanding the different kinds of child custody

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2022 | Child Custody |

Going through a divorce can wreak emotional havoc on New Hampshire families. This is especially true when children are involved. Understanding the different types of custody can help you better navigate the divorce process.

Custody types and parenting plans

Working alongside the spouse you are divorcing to create a parenting plan can be frustrating and confusing. However, it is often in the children’s best interest to spend equal amounts of time with both parents. The following are the different types and ways child custody can be determined.

Sole custody vs. joint custody

Sole custody is the term used when one parent is awarded primary custody of the child(ren). Sole custody can be awarded for a variety of reasons including:

  • The other parent is unfit.
  • The other parent’s significant other is unfit.
  • The other parent lives too far away for joint custody to be feasible.

Joint custody is the term used when both parents are granted equal parenting time. In general, joint custody works best when parents live close to each other and can work together in the child’s best interest.

Physical custody vs. legal custody

Physical custody refers to where the child(ren) will live. Legal custody refers to the parent’s ability to make legal decisions for the child including schooling, religion and medical decisions.

Ideally, parents can be awarded joint physical and joint legal custody if they prove they can work together to maintain a cooperative environment for their child(ren). Parents can be awarded sole physical custody and joint legal custody. This can happen when parents live far away from each other, and it is less stressful for the child to stay at one home. The other parent may still have visitation rights.