What Is Residential Custody Of A Child?

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Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Lori Pace

Divorced couples or those with children from another marriage may have different child custody arrangements. The court decides what is best for the children and makes recommendations. The “residential” custody of the children is where the dispute lines are often drawn between litigants. It refers to the parent who will have physical custody of the children. 

What Is Residential Custody?

What is Residential Custody?

Children over three (3) years old have parenting time that is one night per week, every other weekend and half of the summer. Parents alternate holidays. There is a strong legal trend towards joint physical custody. There are many ways to achieve this. The parents might share parenting time week-on-week-off. This is more effective if the parents live close to one another or before their children go to school. Other ways to achieve joint physical custody include a rotation of days, such as 5-2-2-5. You can obtain joint physical custody by presenting evidence to skilled domestic counsel explaining why it is best for the children. This evidence should then be presented to the court.

It is important to remember that legal custody must be determined by the court when you are considering “residential” custody or primary physical custody. Legal custody refers to who decides about the education, religion, schooling, and care of the children. Legal custody can be either sole or joint. The court can also apportion each decision between the parents. The court makes this decision based on the evidence presented to it by the parties. Then they decide on the best interests of the children. You must present the court with what is best for the children, whether you are seeking sole legal custody or joint custody. This requires skilled legal counsel.

Is Residential Custody The Same As Sole Custody?

The parent with primary residential custody is the one with whom the children spend most of their time. This parent is the sole physical custodian. The parents agree on the primary residential custody or the court determines it.

Non-residential parents have visitation with their child/children, which is commonly known as “parenting time”. Parenting time schedules are used to outline time spent with each parent, whether they have sole custody or joint custody. Common parenting time arrangements allow the non-residential parent to spend time with the child every other weekend, and sometimes one night a week.

Most custody agreements will name the mother the residential or custodial parent. It is possible for this to change as custody decisions should always be made in the best interest of the child.

Change In Residential Custody Practices

Real joint residential custody arrangements used to be more common in the past. These arrangements saw the time of the child split between the parents. Many judges aren’t using this practice anymore as it is considered disruptive. Although joint residential custody is possible, it may not be the best option for the child. For a toddler or infant, stability and predictability are essential. If custody is split 50/50, then the child will be constantly moving between their parents, creating chaos and disruption. If the parents are far apart, the stress of traveling alone can be too much for the child.

To have a successful joint custody arrangement, the parents must be able and willing to communicate with each other. Parents will interact on a regular basis with their child and must maintain a civil relationship.

Change in Residential Custody Practices
Don’t put your child under devastation just because of your selfishness.

Legal Custody

Legal Custody is the decision about who makes the most important decisions for the child’s welfare. It can be anything from religious beliefs to schooling and medical care. If parents have different views on certain topics, it may not be a good idea to share custody. One parent might prefer that the child attend private school over public school. One parent may be religious, while the other might not. It is better for one parent to make the major decisions.

Child Support

One parent who has residential custody is entitled to child support from the parent they live with. Child support is a subject of much contention. How much time is spent with the child directly impacts the amount paid. However, the laws governing child support vary from one state to the next. Before you can make a parenting agreement, it is important that you understand them and consult a lawyer.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!