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What are the Different Types of Custody?

By Nat Robinson
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are numerous reasons why a person may be awarded custody of another human being. Usually, when a person is unable to make sound decisions over his or her physical and mental well being, custodial rights are awarded to someone who can handle these responsibilities. There are many different types of custody. Generally, each type is governed by a different set of distinctive rules. In most cases, the standards of a custodial arrangement are legally defined by a court of law.

Custodial rights may involve primary custody. This type of custodianship is generally awarded in child custody cases. When a person has primary custodial rights, he or she is established as the primary caregiver. The person is generally responsible for providing a primary place of residence, food and clothing for the person. He or she oversees the person's well being and may be accountable for providing him or her with physical, mental and dental health care as well.

Joint custody is another common type. With this type of arrangement, each party will enjoy equal rights. In the case of a child, both parents may have the same amount of physical entitlement to the child. Both parents may also share in every decision made on behalf of the child with no parent having any greater rights than the other one.

Sometimes, when parents are unable to provide adequate care for their children, grandparent's custody may be awarded. In this type of custodianship, a grandparent will assume the primary responsibilities for the child or children placed into his or her care. Typically, this is only done in extenuating circumstances. For instance, this may be done when one or both parents are severely disabled or deceased. To ensure that their rights remain in place, some grandparents seek legal documentation to secure their custodial rights to their grandchildren.

Temporary custody may be awarded if a primary caregiver is unable to fulfill his or her role for a limited or temporary amount of time. This may be done if the primary caregiver loses his or her job and is unable to financially afford the responsibilities. Additionally, this type of custodianship may be awarded in the event of sickness or illness, where the main caregiver is physically unable to provide full-time care. In most cases, temporary custodial rights are short term. Typically, the rights are revoked after the primary caregiver resumes full-time responsibilities.

One additional type of custodianship is protective custody. Generally, a child is placed under this type of protection when he or she is endangered. An endangered adult can be placed under this type of care as well. Although, most endure this type of treatment when they have committed a crime. Criminals are commonly given this type of treatment until they are processed and come before a judge for sentencing.

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Discussion Comments
By anon980563 — On Dec 05, 2014

I have custody of my 4 year old and at times I get depressed. I have never abused my child. My mother is seeking custody saying I am unfit. I hold a job as a social worker in a hospital setting and provide a roof and food and clothing for my child. The childs father also pays support and helps with her. Can my mother say I am unfit and get custody? I love my daughter and so does her father.

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