There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. When a parent in a divorce proceeding receives physical custody, that parent has the right to have the child in question live at the parent's residence.
If the court awards the parents joint physical custody, then the child will split his or her time living with each parent. This often happens if the two parents live close enough to make this option practical. When the child lives mainly with one parent, that parent will have custody of the child while the other parent can gain visitation rights.
Legal custody gives a parent the right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, including such important matters as the child's religion and schooling. Again, a court may choose to award joint legal custody to both parents. However, where only one parent receives physical or legal custody, that parent is said to have sole custody of the child in that regard.