Before you go to court to settle the matter of child custody, it is helpful to understand the different options.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly explains there are a few different types of child custody each of which offers varying levels of rights.
Legal custody is the right to make decisions for your child. It does not include general decisions you may make every day, such as what to eat for lunch or when to go to bed. It does cover major decisions, such as those regarding medical care and religion.
There are two types of legal custody. Shared legal custody means that you and the other parent both have input and the right to make major decisions regarding your child and on his or her behalf. The other is sole legal custody, which means only the parent who gets legal custody has the right to make decisions for and on behalf of your child.
Physical custody is the possession of the child. There are a few different options the court has when awarding this type of custody.
As with legal custody, you can have shared or sole physical custody. Shared means you will both have significant time with the child, and sole means the same as it does for legal custody where the child is only physically with you and never with the other parent.
You may also get partial physical custody, which is where the other parent gets the majority of the time with the child and you get visitations. Essentially, you will have the child less than half of the time. Primary physical custody is what the other parent would have in this situation.
The last physical custody arrangement is under supervision. If you have supervised physical custody, it means that you must have an approved guardian present when you are physically visiting with your child.