To non-lawyers, custody means where a child or children will live when their parents separate. To lawyers and judges, custody means which parent will have the authority to make decisions for and about children. There are two basic forms of custody, sole custody and joint custody. In sole custody, one parent makes all of the decisions major and minor and the other parent has to get permission from the custodial parent to see a child's medical records or remove a child from daycare. The other form of custody is joint custody where the parents will make decisions together on major issues surrounding the children's lives such as religious training, medical treatment, education, etc.
Where a child resides is called residency. One parent generally is designated the primary residential parent and the other parent has temporary residence with the children. This is usually the most contentious area since most people do agree on joint custody.
There are many factors a judge must consider in determining which parent should be the primary residential parent if the parents cannot agree. The number one factor in this determination is who has been the primary care giver to the child since birth. There are other factors such as mental health, domestic violence, drug or alcohol addiction, which parent fosters a relationship between the children and the other parent and the overall fitness of each parent.
Our divorce and family law practice has a great deal of expertise in custody/residency cases and can assist you in coming to a fair and just arrangement with the other party.