Child Custody Glossary

Legal Custody - The right to make major decisions on behalf of a child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious, and educational decisions. This can be awarded to one person or more than one person.

Sole Legal Custody - The right of one individual to exclusive legal custody of the child.

Shared Legal Custody - The right of more than one individual to legal custody of the child. If legal custody is shared, parties should consult each other concerning major decisions affecting the child's life.

Primary Physical Custody - The right to assume physical custody for the majority of time. The child would spend more than half of overnight stays every year with the parent with primary physical custody. In some states this is called Residential Custody.

Partial Physical Custody - The right to assume physical custody for less than the majority of time. The child would spend less than half of overnight stays every year with the parent with partial physical custody.

Sole Physical Custody - The right of one individual to exclusive physical custody of the child.

Shared Physical Custody - The right of more than one individual to assume physical custody of the child, each having significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.

Supervised Physical Custody - Custodial time during which an agency or an adult designated by the court or agreed upon by the parties monitors the interaction between the child and the person with those rights.

Relocation - A change in a residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a nonrelocating party to exercise custodial rights.