Child Custody

Updated: Apr 28



When going through a divorce, child custody is usually one of the bigger concerns when a divorce involves children. Child Custody is more complex than most initially believe and can get messier as the divorce goes on. This is an overall term encompassing how time can be split between the parents as well as how the wellbeing of the children will be decided.


There are two specific types of child custody. There is Legal Custody and there is Physical custody. In recent times, Courts lean towards join custody. This is especially prevalent in Idaho.

Legal Custody: This when parents are specifically given the power to make decisions for the child. This includes decisions regarding their education, medical care and religion. This designation is when one parent is the decision maker for the child or children. If the courts find that both parents should equal say in these matters; joint custody is awarded. This is awarded when there is a good working relationship between parents. If it comes to a point where sharing custody interferes in decision making, this custody can be awarded to one sole parent.


Physical Custody:

This is the right that a parent has to have a minor live with him or her. In Idaho specifically, Joint Custody is usually awarded; which is granting custody to both adults.

When the minor lives mainly with one parent/guardian and their address is the primary address of the minor then the parent/guardian will have primary physical custody. This is also called custodial parent/guardian. The noncustodial parent will have visitation rights with the minor.


Legal Custody:

This is the right which is awarded to one specific parent/guardian to make the choices regarding the minor's upbringing. This custody becomes the right and obligation for who it is granted. These choices made for the minor include religion, education and medical care. Many states can award Joint Legal Custody, which grants legal custody to both parents/guardian.

If Joint Legal Custody seem to be impossible for you and your partner then you can go to court and request Sole Custody.


Sole Custody:

If one parent/guardian is deemed unfit then the courts will award Sole Custody to the other parent/guardian. An individual can be considered unfit because of alcohol or drug dependency. Child abuse or neglect charges are also reasons to be considered unfit.

If a parent/guardian is awarded sole custody, there is usually still joint legal custody. Most states are leaning away from awarding Sole Custody because there is a push to have both parents/guardian involved in a child's life. Even with Sole Custody, courts may award a visitation schedule to the other party.


Joint Custody:

This is a right given to parents/guardians to share the same responsibilities for the decisions for the minor. This includes working out a schedule which splits time between the parents. The time split between the parents is on some alternating pattern which is not too disruptive to the minors' life. This usually involves holidays, weekends and monthly visits or even summer breaks. Joint Custody can be Joint Legal Custody, Joint Physical Custody or both.





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