Parents who are going through a divorce must make decisions relating to the care of their children. This can be emotional, but the best decisions have to do with what is best for the children and not the parents. Ideally, the parents should be able to work out an agreed-upon parenting plan, but if they are unable to, the court will.

According to the California Courts, there are two types of custody. One is physical, and this refers to which parent, or parents, the children will reside with. Legal custody refers to who makes decisions about important things such as education, religion, healthcare, activities and travel. Both parents may have joint custody, or one may have sole custody of both kinds.

If the court rewards one parent sole custody, the other parent will usually have visitation time. This can be on a specific schedule or open-ended. Visitation may also require third-party supervision.

When making decisions regarding child custody, the judge considers the best interests of the child. Very Well Family outlines the factors of determination. The judge considers each parent’s ability to care for the children. This means considering their emotional and physical health as well as their financial ability to provide basics such as shelter, food, medical care and clothing. A safe environment is also a large consideration.

Custody can vary based on the child’s age and needs. A younger child typically needs more hands-on care and bonding with a parent. The number and types of activities may be a factor in which parent is a better fit. When the children are old and mature enough, the judge may also ask them what their preferences are.