Sole physical custody? Joint physical custody? Do either of these mean anything to you?

What kinds of child custody are there? If this is your first divorce with children in the balance, the terms of your child custody will determine how you will have access to your own children—or not.

If you can’t define your child custody arrangement amicably in mediation with your soon-to-be ex-husband, a judge will be assigned to your divorce. The judge will award custody of your child or children using one or more of three types of child custody. These types of child custody are not all the same. It is important that you have an experienced child custody attorney to represent you during your divorce and child custody issues, or you may wind up without.

Sole Custody

Sole custody occurs when one parent is awarded all decision making authority for the child. The other parent, typically referred to as the non-custodial parent, will usually have visitation rights, but this isn’t guaranteed. However, the opinions of the non-custodial parent will have no power—no say—in any of the decisions made regarding how the child is raised, educated, given religious instruction, or otherwise.

Joint Custody

Joint custody allows both parents to share decision making authority over the child or children. Typically, joint custody is only awarded when both parents can demonstrate to the court that they’re capable of getting along. They’ll need to be able to have conversations regarding the welfare, education, and upbringing of the child or children. If the divorce is drama-heavy and contentious, the court is less likely to award joint custody because of the likelihood the parents will end up fighting custody terms in court again. If the parents can work out a joint custody agreement, it is often the most beneficial for the well-being of the children.

Physical Custody

Physical Custody refers to the amount of time each parent gets to spend with the children. If the parents cannot agree, it will be determined by the court. Many times the court will count the number of “over-nights” that each parent will receive and work out a schedule for the transfer of physical custody of the children. Physical custody orders will usually include who gets to have the children on which holidays.

If you haven’t yet imagined having Christmas without your children, it may be time to, and to begin weighing what custody arrangement will be most fair and what will be best for your children.

Mother versus Father in the Fight for Child Custody

Just because you’re the mother, there is no guarantee you’ll win a fierce custody battle. Securing the right professional counsel could make all the difference. To contact an experienced family trial lawyer who exclusively represents women in child custody disputes, call the law offices of Paul H. Nathan at 415-341-1144 or fill out our online contact form.