There are two classes of custody:
- Physical custody – the parent is in possession of the child.
- Legal custody – the law gives the parent legal claim to the child.
There are several types of custody:
- Third party custody – the child is placed with a person other than a biological parent.
- Sole custody – one parent has both physical and legal custody, no other person has custody of the child.
- Split custody – one parent has custody of one child and another parent has custody of another child.
- Joint custody – two parents have both physical and legal custody of the child.
- Shared custody – both parents have legal custody of the child, though the child lives with one for a time and then lives with the other for a time.
- Alternating custody – the child lives with one parent for a time and then with the other parent for a time; the parent the child lives with has custody of the child.
- Bird’s nest custody – the child lives in one place but the parents alternate moving to the child.
The classes of custody, physical and legal, can relate to all the types of custody, though one parent may have one class of custody and the other parent have another class. For example in some shared custody situations one parent will have physical custody of the child and the other parent retains legal custody, though the other parent does not physically have the child at the time. But often times the parent with legal custody has physical custody as well. The classes and types of custody may be lined up to create numerous situations allowing each family to decide what is best for them. If one parent is in prison, then sole custody is often appropriate. If both are in prison, then third party custody will most likely be given.
See Divorce and Child Custody in general for more information.
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