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Types of child custody and how the courts decide

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2022 | Family Law |

As a parent going through a divorce, one of your biggest concerns is child custody. Ideally, it is best if you and your soon-to-be ex can come up with a custody agreement yourselves, but if you cannot decide, the courts will make the decision.

According to FindLaw, there are four types of custody in the State of Oklahoma. Except in cases of abuse or other harm, the courts lean towards giving both parents structured and unstructured time with the child.

Sole custody

Sole custody is when a judge names one parent as the custodial parent. With sole and joint custody, there is a legal aspect and a physical one. Legal custody refers to who makes major decisions, such as education, religion, medical care and housing, regarding the child. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with.

A judge may order sole legal and physical custody to a parent, but this is rare. It is more common, however, to order sole physical and joint legal custody. If there is sole physical custody, the judge will usually grant the non-custodial parent visitation time.

Joint custody

Joint custody refers to both parents having custodial rights, either legally, physically or both. Although joint custody is common, it does not necessarily mean the child lives with each parent 50% of the time.

Split custody

Split custody is a special situation. It refers to when there are multiple children, and the judge awards each parent custody of at least one of them.


Also referred to as just nesting, birdnesting is when the child lives in the home full time, and each parent rotates living with the child. This is a less common arrangement than the other options.