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The Two Types of Child Custody Orders

One of the most difficult parts of divorce— if not the most difficult part of divorce— is deciding what’s best for your shared child(ren).


In the state of California, either parent is allowed custody of their children— or the parents may choose to share custody. Ultimately, the judge makes the definitive decision about custody and visitation rights, but typically will approve the plan that both the parents agree to.


Types of Custody Orders


There are two types of child custody. They are:


Legal Custody


This type of custody covers who is to make key decisions for the children (i.e. education, healthcare, religion, mental health counseling, extracurricular activities, etc.)


Legal custody can either be:


Joint— in which both parents share the responsibility and right to make these key decisions




Sole— in which only one of the parents is allowed the responsibility and right to make these key decisions.


Physical Custody


This type of custody covers who the children will live with.


Physical custody can either be:


Joint— in which the children will split their time evenly living with both parents




Sole/Primary— in which the children live with one parent for most of the time and typically visit the other parent.

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