Wedded bliss is not always meant to last for some couples. When it comes to divorce, many important decisions must be made. This is especially true if the couple has children.

The state of Alabama recognizes four types of child custody. The first type of custody is joint legal custody. When parents share joint legal custody, they each have the same rights and responsibilities to make key decisions regarding the upbringing of the child. This includes where the child will go to school, what religion the child will practice and health care decisions on behalf of the child, among other major decisions.

The second type of custody is joint physical custody. When parents share physical custody, the child will be granted frequent and substantial contact with each parent. Keep in mind that a joint physical custody situation does not mean that each parent will spend exactly 50 percent of the time with the child. If parents share both joint legal custody and joint physical custody, this is referred to simply as “joint custody” under Alabama law.

The third type of custody is sole legal custody. In this situation, only one parent will have the right and responsibility to make key decisions regarding the upbringing of the child. Finally, the fourth type of custody is sole physical custody. In this situation, one parent will have the child solely in their care, and the other parent will have visitation rights.

As discussed, sometimes parents will be awarded joint custody. Other times, both parents may share joint legal custody, but only one parent will be granted sole physical custody. Or, depending on the situation, only one parent may be awarded both sole legal custody and sole physical custody. Any custody decisions will be made based on the best interests of the child. Those who have questions about this and other family law topics will want to seek the advice they need to better understand the issue.