This involves which parent (either you or your spouse, or both of you) will have the right to make important decisions on behalf the child. Some examples include:
- The education of the child
- Medical decisions (including mental health)
- Religious upbringing of the child
Physical custody on the other hand involves the issue of how much time the child will spend with each parent and where. It is important for you to know that courts have a preference for joint custody, especially physical, based on a policy that minor children should have frequent and continuous contact with both parents. Keep in mind that deciding legal and physical custody is determined on a case-by-case basis meaning that the court will consider the facts of your case and determine if joint custody is appropriate. The court will make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child. In certain cases, it is not appropriate for the minor child to spend time with one of the parents based on various factors that need to be presented to the court and supported by the evidence.
Sometimes a court will determine that the child should reside primarily with one parent. In that case the other parent will have visitation rights. The visitation rights can be either very general and vague or very specific and rigid. Again, visitation is determined on a case-by-case basis. The court will take into account the circumstances surrounding the case.
It is important for you to know that child support is determined using both you and your spouse’s gross income. Visitation time/percentages and certain monthly expenses are taken into consideration in determining the amount of child support awarded. Such expenses include: monthly child care expenses, mortgage and property payments and other special expenses.
Child support will be awarded for each child that is under 18 years old, or where the child still lives at home and has not yet graduated from high school, child support will be awarded until the child graduates from high school or until he/she turns 19 years old, whichever occurs first.Keep in mind that sharing custody 50%-50% does not mean that you will not be responsible for paying child support to the other parent. If there is an income disparity between the parties, it is likely that the high earner parent will have to pay child support to the other parent.