What is the difference between sole and joint physical custody?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2021 | Custody |

In California, child custody can be one of the hardest aspects of family law. Much is at stake in these situations and it is crucial that the parents remember that the child’s needs must take precedence. Parents should be cognizant of how every decision they make will impact the child. This is especially true when considering the different types of physical custody.

Joint physical custody vs. sole physical custody

Physical custody is not the same as legal custody. Legal custody essentially determines which parent makes the key decisions on behalf of the child or if that decision-making power is shared. Physical custody centers around who has the child with him or her. Sole custody is also referred to as primary custody. There can be joint physical custody and sole physical custody.

With joint physical custody, the child will reside with both parents. That does not mean that it will be 50-50 without deviation. In general, a child will – out of necessity based on school and scheduling – spend more time with one parent. The other parent will have visitation and play an active role in the child’s life with as equal amount of time with the child as is feasible. With sole physical custody, one parent will have the child the bulk of the time and the other parent is generally given visitation rights.

With custody issues, it is key to focus on the child’s needs

Physical custody is a common area of dispute in a family law case. There are others such as deciding on a visitation schedule, what to do if a parent wants to relocate with the child, modifying an agreement, if grandparents are asking for custody or visitation, and if there is potential danger to the child.

Custody issues can be complicated, especially for professional people who are still relatively young and have younger children who need attention and nurturing from both parents. When navigating these issues, it is imperative to remember the needs of the child and to try and forge an agreement that suits the parents’ desires while simultaneously focusing on the child’s well-being. Whether the parents are on good terms, there are disagreements or there is outright acrimony, it is useful to have experienced assistance to try and reach a satisfactory conclusion.