THE BASICS OF CUSTODY AND VISITATION

There are two types of custody, legal and physical.  Legal custody concerns the decision-making rights to the children.  It is almost a given that both parties will receive joint legal custody, giving them both the access to the child's school and medical records, events, and giving both parties joint decision making power over subjects like education, religion, and medical care. Physical custody is where the children actually live.  Most people who ask for "sole custody" are really asking for physical custody. Physical custody involves a custodial parent (who has custody) and the non-custodial parent (who has visitation, also known as “parenting time).  There is almost no such thing as sole custody, where one parent is allowed to raise a child without the assistance of the other parent. 

TYPICAL CUSTODY ARRANGEMENTS

All custody arrangements begin by addressing which parent will be the "primary physical custodian."  That simply means the person with whom the child is going to live. Once the primary custodian is decided, then parenting time for the other party will be addressed. Parenting time is the same as visitation. It is called parenting time because that it what it actually is - time to parent, and not just have fun.

TYPICAL PARENTING TIME SCHEDULES

A standard parenting time schedule is generally as follows:

  • Friday at 6pm  - Sunday at 6pm  
  • Alternating Spring and Fall Breaks
  • Alternating Thanksgiving Holidays from the day school ends until Sunday at 6pm
  • Alternating Christmas Holidays - one parent has time from the day school ends until Christmas Day; the other party has time from Christmas day until the day before school begins.
  • Summer holidays for a minimum of four (4) weeks

Though this is a standard schedule, it does not have to be standard for you. You can always come to an agreement on or ask for the schedule and arrangement that meets the needs of you and your family.  

Links to Helpful Custody and Visitation Information