The Rhode Island Family Court judge utilizes the “best interest of the child” standard in Rhode Island Child Custody and Child Visitation cases. The Factors a Family Court Judge should use in making a “best interest of the child” determination are set forth in the seminal Rhode Island case of Pettinato v Pettinato, 589 A.2d 909 (R.I. 1990) Child Custody, Visitation and Placement issues are usually determined by the RI Family Court in Divorce, Post Divorce, Paternity, DCYF, Family Law, and Child Custody Cases.The Basics of Legal CustodyThe Judge of the RI Family Court can award either sole legal custody to a parent or may award Joint Legal Custody to both parents. The issue of legal custody is completely independent of the issue of visitation. RI Visitation Rights are beyond the scope of this Rhode Island Law Article. Please Consult with Rhode Island Child Custody Lawyer David Slepkow about the facts of your case.Sole Legal custodySole Legal Custody means that a parent can make all important and major decisions concerning a child’s health, welfare and upbringing without consulting with the other parent. These major decisions include religious, educational, medical and general welfare decisions. The parent with sole custody of the child will also have physical placement of the child. The parent with sole legal custody has complete access to medical, educational and other records related to the child.Joint Legal CustodyJoint Legal Custody means both parents should be involved in major / important decisions concerning a child’s upbringing, education, medical and religious welfare. Theoretically, both parents with joint custody have equal rights in making important decisions regarding their child or children. Both parents have full rights to access all medical, educational and other records pertaining to the child. In order for joint Custody to be feasible, the parents must have some level of communication and respect for each other to allow them to co-parent.Physical Placement – Physical custodyThe Court must also award to one parent physical placement of the child or children. Physical placement is where the child will be living on a day to day basis. Physical placement is also commonly known as “physical custody” The parent who does not have physical custody of the child will have reasonable visitation rights. The parent with physical placement of a minor child has the right to receive Rhode Island Child support from the parent who has visitation rights. Child Support is typically determined by the Rhode Island Child Support GuidelinesShared Physical PlacementShared Physical placement (Shared Physical custody) is when the child splits time residing with both parents. Shared Physical placement is relatively rare in Rhode Island. In some instances the child may be placed with one parent for half the week and then the other parent the other half of the week. Some parents will alternate weeks or months. This type of arrangement is usually only done by agreement of the parties and is rarely ordered by the Court Absent an agreement.Split Physical PlacementSplit physical Placement is when one child lives with the father and one child lives with the mother. It can also be when the children are split in away so that at least one child lives with a parent and at least one child lives with mother.If the Parents cannot agree to Legal Custody, Physical Placement or Visitation, then The RI Family court must determine what is in the “best interest of the child” This is very subjective and analytical standard.It is advisable to contact a Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer or a RI Family Law Attorney to get legal advice concerning the facts and circumstances in your case.Rhode Island Attorneys legal Notice per RI Rules of Professional Responsibility:The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers / attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer or attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.