What are the different types of child custody orders? Custody of Children- There are two types of custody: legal and physical. What is Legal Custody? Legal custody determines which parent has the authority to make decisions regarding the child's health, safety, education, and welfare. If only one parent can make these decisions alone, this is called sole legal custody.  When both parents have the right to make these decisions, this is called joint legal custody.   Joint legal custody means both parents should cooperate on decision-making.  However, either parent has the power to make these decisions alone. Sole legal custody means only one parent can make decisions and obtain information from the child's school, doctor, counselor, etc.   What is Physical Custody? Physical custody determines where the child or children will reside. Sole physical custody means the child or children live with one parent and may visit the other parent. Joint physical custody means the child or children reside with both parents, often on a fairly equal basis. However, even if they have joint physical custody, if one parent will have the child more than half of the time, then that parent is referred to as the primary custodial parent for tax and other purposes.    Keep in mind that judges have discretion when it comes to family law cases, consequently they can issue orders that do not strictly adhere to the above definitions.  The bottom line is that the judge is to issue an order that represents the bests interests of the children. 
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