Understanding the terminology used by the family courts is important. You need to use legal phrases appropriately if you hope to obtain a positive outcome in your divorce or custody dispute.
The different phrases used to describe custody can confuse some people. Understanding the meanings of different custody terms will help you ask for arrangements that will truly benefit your family.
Legal custody and physical custody
Parents who want to share their children between two households will have to split both legal and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the legal authority to make decisions for a child. When you have legal custody, you can change the school that your child attends or approve medical treatment.
Physical custody, on the other hand, has to do with parenting time. Shared physical custody means that your children will alternate between staying with you and your ex.
Joint and sole custody
Typically, a family law judge making decisions about contested custody matters will want to do what is best for the children in the family. In most cases, trying to keep both of the parents involved by splitting legal custody and physical custody is a goal.
Joint or shared custody is often the standard, while full or sole custody for one parent is an option in certain situations. A parent who believes their ex’s negligence or abusive behavior puts the children at risk could potentially ask for sole custody. Medical issues, incarceration or a parent refusing parenting time are all reasons the courts could award one parent sole custody.
Understanding the terms that apply to Ohio custody arrangements will make it easier for you to define your custody goals and prepare for the challenges ahead.