During the divorce process, if you and your spouse have children, you must propose a parenting plan explaining each parent’s custody obligations. Your plan is then subject to court approval. According to the South Carolina Department of Social Services, the involvement of both parents, emotionally as well as financially, is necessary for the child to have the fullest upbringing possible. Therefore, the court may be more likely to approve a parenting plan that grants both parents roughly equal time with the children.
In your mind, child custody may mean where the children live. This is physical custody, which is one of two types. Legal custody refers to the authority of either or both parents to make decisions on behalf of the children related to legal matters, e.g., giving consent to a medical procedure. Your parenting plan must describe how you and your spouse are going to divide both physical and legal custody between the two of you. Here are your four options.
1. Sole physical custody and joint legal custody
With this option, you and your co-parent share decision-making responsibilities for your children. However, the children live with one parent and have visitation with the other. In the past, this was one of the most common options.
2. Sole legal and physical custody
The children live with one parent who also has all the decision-making authority. In this situation, the noncustodial parent still has visitation with the children but no say in the child’s health care, religion, education, etc.
3. Joint physical and legal custody
Both parents share decision-making responsibilities and time with the children more or less equally. As research confirms the benefits to the children when parents share custody, this option is becoming more common.
4. Joint physical custody and sole legal custody
With this option, parents divide time with their children more or less equally. However, only one parent has the authority to make decisions for the children.