There are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody pertains to major decisions in a child's life such as religious practices, education, and medical care. Physical custody refers to the primary residence of the child. Legal and physical custody may be "joint" or "sole." In joint legal custody both parents have equal decision making power. In sole legal custody, the parent with sole legal custody has primary decision-making power. In joint physical custody, the child generally splits time between both parents' residences. In sole physical custody, the child has one primary residence with the non-custodial parent having parenting time (formerly referred to as "visitation"). No matter what the custody arrangement, parenting time is determined separately, often at the discretion of the parents.
If parents are unable to agree on custody, a custody evaluator may be needed to perform a custody study and make recommendations to the court regarding legal and/or physical custody of the child. Bonnie Barlow is a trained custody evaluator.