When you’re going through a divorce, every issue can become contentious, but perhaps the most divisive subject during a split is child custody. And, while most people have a general knowledge of the concept of child custody, many don’t know that there are several different types.

Here is a brief overview of the various types:

  • Physical custody. This is what most people mean when they say “custody.” Physical custody is exactly what it sounds like: the parent has the right to have the child physically live in their house.
  • Legal custody. Legal custody determines which parent can make important decisions about the child’s welfare including healthcare, school and upbringing. Legal custody is often awarded to both parents, meaning they will consult with one another and decide what is best for the child.
  • Sole custody. When a parent is awarded sole custody (physical and/or legal), he or she is the only one making decisions for the child and the only one with whom the child lives. This typically happens when one parent is deemed unfit to raise the child.
  • Joint custody. Joint physical custody allows both parents to share time with the child in their respective homes while joint legal custody has both parents sharing in the duties of raising of the child.

Every child custody case is unique and complicated. If you’re going through a divorce and dealing with issues of custody, you may want to consider speaking with a family law attorney to work out an arrangement that’s in the best interests of your child.