The different types of custody arrangements include sole custody and joint custody. Joint custody can be either joint legal custody or joint physical custody. Sole custody refers to when one parent has both physical and legal custody of the child.

Physical custody refers to when a parent takes care of and provides for the child’s day-to-day needs. In this case the child resides with one parent and the other parent has parenting time. Legal custody, on the other hand, is when a parent is responsible for all decisions of the child such as their education, extracurricular activities, religious upbringing and medical needs.

Joint legal custody refers to a custody arrangement where instead of just one parent being responsible for decisions regarding the child’s general upbringing, schooling, religious upbringing and the like, both parents together will make those decisions. Joint physical custody is when both parents have physical custody of the child. However, a judge’s order will specifically note how the joint physical custody arrangement will work. In a joint custody arrangement, parents have to be able to work together. If parents cannot work together, then a joint custody arrangement will not be deemed appropriate. A judge will closely consider the best interest of the child factors to determine if such arrangement will be beneficial or not.

In a family court case involving minor children, a judge will specifically note what the child custody arrangement will be. In some cases, parents of the child may agree to a specific custody arrangement. But, in the absence of an agreement, a judge will determine the child custody arrangement and take into account the best interest of the child. In some cases, a judge may order sole physical but joint legal custody. In other cases, both joint legal and joint physical custody may be ordered.

Source: Michigan Supreme Court, “Michigan Custody Guideline,” accessed July 13, 2015