When parents are going through a divorce, they often focus on the difference between shared custody and sole custody. Shared custody means that the parents have to divide their time with the child, such as having the child switch back and forth between homes every other week. Sole custody would mean that the child would live only with one parent.
But it’s important to remember that legal custody also has to be split. This refers to the power that parents have to make decisions in their child’s life. These decisions could include things like where the child goes to school, what type of medical care they get and what religion they are a part of. Custody decisions involve more than just parenting time and physical location.
The split does not have to be the same
Another thing to keep in mind is that custody doesn’t have to be divided the same way in both cases. Legal custody could be given to just one parent, for instance, while physical custody could be divided between both. While both parents would get to see their child, only one parent would be in charge of choosing a doctor or a school, for example.
Custody could also be the other way around. In some cases, the court will rule that both parents can still be involved with making crucial decisions, but that the child should live with one parent all the time. They may do this if that living situation provides more stability for the child, for instance, or if one parent was the primary caregiver during the marriage.
Dividing parenting time and decision-making power can certainly get complicated. Parents must know about all of their legal options at this time.