No one likes to think about how divorce will change their relationship with their child. In many cases, children end up splitting time between both their parents after a divorce. This is known as joint custody, where parents share parenting time and physical custody of their child. However, some parents would rather have custody of their child, limiting their child’s time with the other parent to only visits.
Physical vs. legal custody
First, divorcing parents need to understand the difference between physical custody and legal custody. Having legal custody of a child includes being able to choose where your child will go to school, what extracurricular activities they will be involved in, what type of medical care they will receive or what religious tradition they will be raised in. Parents can share joint legal custody, meaning both parents have a say in these decisions.
Having physical custody includes when a child will physically spend time with one parent. Sometimes, parents can share legal custody and one parent has physical custody. For physical custody, a parent must prove that this custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests.
What is considered part of a child’s best interests
When evaluating what is in a child’s best interests for custody, the courts review the following:
- If there has been any domestic violence committed by one partner on the other
- What the child’s overall safety will be living with the parent seeking sole physical custody
- What the child’s relationship with each parent is like
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child
- Whether each parent can create a stable home for the child
If you think you should pursue physical custody of your child in your divorce, consult an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can advise you on how to best move forward with your child custody case.