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What are the different types of child custody?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2023 | Blog, Child Custody

California divorced couples who have young children have a lot to consider. Child custody is one of the most emotional matters when parents end their relationship, and there are different types.

Legal custody

Legal custody means that a parent has the legal right to decide matters concerning the child’s welfare such as medical care, education, religion and extracurricular activities such as music, sports and other participatory events. This type of child custody is usually granted to both parents absent extenuating circumstances.

Physical custody

Physical custody means that the child lives with the parent and that parent takes care of them on a daily basis. A parent can have sole physical custody or both can share joint physical custody. In the case of sole, mothers have traditionally been granted that right by the court while the father is given visitation. However, sometimes, the father is considered the primary parent and gets sole physical custody.

Joint custody

Joint custody means that both parents share custody of their child. This can involve either legal or physical custody. For example, if both parents share physical custody, it means that the child splits their time living at both parents’ homes. The child has it easier when the parents live close enough to one another that their school responsibilities and friendships are not disrupted. Joint legal custody means both parents make all decisions about the child’s welfare.


Nesting is a unique custody arrangement that sees the child remaining in the family home. Meanwhile, the parents split their time in the home; when one has parenting time, the other stays elsewhere. They switch off so each is able to have their own time with the child.

When you’re going through a custody matter, there are many options available to you. However, the court will always base custody on what’s in the child’s best interests.