QUESTION: “How do we decide whether sole child-custody or joint child-custody is best for our family?”

There is no doubt that creating a custody plan can be the most difficult part of a divorce. Each parent wants the best for the child, but parents may not agree on what “the best” means. Understanding your custody options can help you and your ex agree on a plan that will work for your family.

Types of Custody

Physical Custody: Physical custody refers to where the child lives with. If the child lives with only one parent, that parent has sole physical custody. But, joint physical custody is another common option.  In this case, the child splits his time between his parents. He spends a significant amount of time in each home.

Many families try to divide time equally, but an equal division isn’t mandatory. Your family can decide what works best for you.

Legal Custody: When a parent has physical custody, that parent gets to make day-to-day decisions: Will your son buy lunch or bring lunch? Can your daughter go to Annie’s slumber party? Does she have permission to go on the class field trip? A parent with legal custody makes the long-term decisions about religion, education, healthcare and discipline.

It is possible for a parent to have sole physical custody, but share legal custody.  The parent with sole physical custody chooses the child’s clothing and toys and makes day-to-day plans, but she cannot change churches or schools without her ex’s approval.

It is always best when parents can agree on a custody plan. When parents can’t decide on the best custody arrangement, the spouses’ divorce lawyers will try to negotiate a solution.  If an agreement can’t be made, custody will be determined by a PA family court judge based on 17 factors and the best interest of the child.

Can’t decide on the best custody arrangement for your family? Contact the Philadelphia child custody attorneys at Petrelli Previtera. Call us at 215-523-6900.