What are the Different Types of Custody Agreements?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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When a couple with children chooses to divorce, it will be necessary to determine child custody agreements. Primarily, there are two types of custody that are discussed in court, and will be agreed to with the help of lawyers: physical custody and legal custody. Within each of those two custody agreements, it will need to be determined if parents will have joint custody, or if one parent will have sole custody.

Within custody agreements, it does not necessarily need to be the same for both types of custody. For example, one parent might have sole physical custody, but the parents might share legal custody jointly. Again, this is something that will need to be worked out with the help of divorce attorneys, and will be written into the divorce settlement agreement. If one parent does not abide by the divorce settlement agreement, the other parent has the option to take him or her back to court.


Physical custody is the first half of custody agreements. It refers to the right of the parent to have the child live with him or her. If a child only lives with one parent and occasionally visits the other, this may be a case of sole physical custody with visitation rights. If, however, the child splits his or her time living with both parents, this will be referred to as joint physical custody. Though the latter is somewhat more common, each individual case is different. Of course, there is also the case in which the other parent is not allowed visitation, in which case sole physical custody will be given to the other parent.

Of course, within physical custody agreements, there are many nuances that parents will have to work out. For example, children might spend weekdays with one parent and weekends with another; the school year with one parent and the summer with another; or even specific days during the week with different parents. It depends on each person's individual situation, and the proximity that parents live to each other.

The next part of custody agreements is legal custody. This refers to the right of the parent or parents to make legal decisions regarding the child, usually in reference to schooling choices, religious upbringing, and medical care. Again, parents may be awarded joint legal custody, or one parent may be given sole legal custody, depending on a number of factors. When working out custody agreements, it is always best to put the needs and best interest of the children first.


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