In the early stages of a divorce, many Florida residents are confused about many aspects of the process. That is especially true in cases where child custody and visitation will play a role. Understanding the ins and outs of custody can be challenging, but it helps to start with the basics.

There are really only two types of custody to think about: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions on behalf of the children. That includes things like where they will go to school, which doctor they will see, and whether or not they should meet with a counselor.

Physical custody, on the other hand, involves where the children will reside. That can dictate where they are assigned to attend school, and how far the other parent will have to travel to spend time with them. It also usually defines which home will feel more like “theirs.” Parents who fail to understand the difference between physical and legal custody can end up with child custody agreements or orders that are unbalanced and unfair.

Parents have a great deal of flexibility in how they structure a child custody and visitation agreement. Some choose sole custody, where one parent assumes both legal and physical custody of the children. Others prefer joint custody, where both parents continue to play an active role in the life of a child. It’s even possible to create an alternating custody schedule, if that arrangement works best for the Florida family.

Source:, “Child Custody 101”, Armin Brott, Jan. 30, 2018