The “custody” word sometimes sends shivers down the spine of divorce litigants. However, this term is often misunderstood and can unnecessarily result in a high conflict divorce. Divorce lawyers in Greenwich and Westport often are asked: “What does ‘custody’ mean?” First, in the context of divorce, there are two parts to custody: legal and physical.
Legal custody refers to decision making with regard to your child’s health, education and religion. Most couples, even those who are divorcing, want the best medical care and education for their children and are on the same page as to what that is. Religion is rarely a factor at the time of divorce as it typically has long since been settled. That is why almost all cases result in joint legal custody.
In certain cases, parties may have joint legal custody but one parent may have final decision making on the major issues. But even this is usually invoked after both parents consult with each other or try to arrive at a mutual decision that is in the best interest of their child. Sometimes the parties employ a parenting coordinator to assist with the decision making process, since relying on a Court to insert itself into the controversy is usually not efficient or productive.