Custody refers to the rights of a parent or other adult to be responsible for a minor. In family law there are several types of custody that may come into play. Sec 5322 defines all the different variations of custody. First, there is legal custody versus physical custody. Legal custody is defined as “the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions.” As it relates to legal custody, it can either be shared between the parents or other responsible parties meaning they have to consult with one another and agree on the major decisions or one parent/party can have sole legal custody and make any decision on their own.
Physical custody is defined as “the actually physical possession and control of a child.” There are several scenarios that can play out as far as physical custody. First, it can be shared between the parents/parties. Shared, or joint, custody is generally understood to mean equal or 50/50 time. There can also be sole physical custody meaning one parent/party has physical possession of the child all the time. Another form of physical custody is primary physical custody. Primary custody grants the right to have possession of the child the majority of the time. In a situation where one parent/party has primary, the other parent/party would be deemed to have partial physical custody. Partial custody means they have the child for less than a majority of the time. Physical custody can be supervised if needed in which case it would need to be determined who would supervise the custody time be it an agency of the court, one of the parties involved, or a third party. The term “visitation” is used interchangeably with partial custody.