Men and women have different struggles with child custody during a divorce or separation. Most men know the amount of time they wish to spend with their children, but they’re not aware of the many different types of custody and issues related to them. In fact, some men use the term “custody” to refer to anything related to the children in a divorce proceeding.
Physical custody refers to the amount of time these fathers will get to spend with their children, but “legal custody” covers who will make many of the important decisions affecting the children. These decisions include many life-altering choices such as religious practices, choice of schools, health care, sports, the arts, etc.
There are three custody scenarios, generally: joint custody, sole custody to Mom, and sole custody to Dad. Legal custody is extremely important because the non-custodial (secondary physical custody) parent can’t be cut from the decision making process if he/she has joint custody.
Joseph Cordell, founder of DadsDivorce, states that “non-custodial parent” has almost become a synonym for “Dad.” Fathers comprise almost 85% of the non-custodial parents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Joint legal custody does give the non-custodial parent significant legal input, and Dad can have a say in his child’s life.
If a father can’t obtain physical custody, he should strongly seek joint legal custody. Without legal custody, Mom can make decisions for the children without Dad’s approval… decisions that Dad will pay for, literally. Most fathers want to have an active presence in their child’s life, and that is much more difficult without legal or physical custody.