Parents who divorce or, in the case of unmarried parents, decide to go their separate ways, will need to deal with child custody issues, particularly if the children are still young. Conshohocken custody lawyers want you to know there are different kinds of custody.

When courts deal with custody issues, they are typically concerned with who should get legal custody of the child and who should have physical custody of the child. However, many people do not fully understand the difference between the two. The following information is intended to provide parents with a clearer picture of child custody. Still, parents who have questions or concerns about their specific child custody issues should always speak directly with a skilled custody attorney who can provide the most current information related to their specific case.

Legal Custody

If a parent is granted legal custody of a child, this means that he or she will have the right to make major decisions that will affect the child, to include decisions related to education, religious upbringing and medical-related issues.

There are two types of legal custody: shared and sole. In shared legal custody situations, the individuals sharing custody are required to confer with each other prior to making any significant decisions regarding the child. In sole legal custody situations, one person will have the right to make the decisions.

Physical Custody

When a parent seeks to have physical custody of a child, he or she wants the right to have the child under his or her care and control. Generally, there are four kinds of physical custody: primary, shared, sole and partial (which includes supervised partial custody). Primary physical custody allows one parent to maintain physical custody of the child most of the time. He or she is typically referred to as the “custodial” parent, while the other parent would be known as the “non-custodial” parent.

In shared physical custody arrangements, both parents maintain physical control of the child for significant portions of time. However, in sole physical custody situations, only one parent has the right to have exclusive control and custody over the child.

With respect to partial physical custody, a parent is typically given the right to have physical control of the child, but it is for less than a majority of time. Typically, this parent is granted non-supervised part-time physical custody or visitation. Still, there may be times when a court finds that a parent is a danger to the child, and in such cases, the judge may grant what is known as “supervised partial physical custody.” In such cases, the parent who is considered dangerous will be required to be supervised at all times when visiting with the child. That supervision can be provided by a mutually-agreed upon adult, an individual selected by the court or an agency.

“Split” Custody

Although this is not a true legal term, split custody is often the term used to describe a custody arrangement that involves parents who have more than one child together. In such instances, each parent maintains primary physical custody and control over one or more children. A common example would be if the couple has two children, one would live with the mother while the other would live with the father.

If you are in Conshocken or elsewhere in Pennsylvania and would like to learn more about your child custody options, please call Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, LLP at (610) 825-3634 or use our online contact form