Often people going through a divorce think that child visitation and child custody rights are one in the same and are merely interchangeable terms. However, that is simply not the case.
Child custody breaks down into various components. First, there is legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to which parent has the responsibility to make the decisions that effect a child’s health, education, safety, and general welfare.
Joint legal custody means that both parents participate in these decisions.
Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the legal right to make these decisions for the child.
Physical custody refers to which residence the child will stay at. A court might decree joint physical custody, in which the child spends specific amounts of time with both parents. However, a judge may also decree sole physical custody where a child will stay with just one of the parents. The court may decide to do this to provide a more secure base for the child, for example.