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Important Child Custody Information: Understanding Different Types of Custody

Just about any parent who is considering divorce has likely already given plenty of thought to child custody, yet many modern parents aren’t actually aware of the options they and their spouses have. Read on to find Child custody information that every divorcing parent should know about.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to who will actually have the right to continue living with and caring for the child. It is sometimes possible, depending on the state and the parents, to obtain joint physical custody. This is most appropriate if the two parents live close to each other and are capable of maintaining a respectful co-parenting relationship.

Legal Custody

While physical custody affects who the child will live with, legal custody refers to one or the other parent’s right and obligation to make decisions about things like schooling, religion, and healthcare. It is common for divorced parents to be awarded joint legal custody even if they are not awarded joint physical custody. While joint legal custody is preferred in most states, it is still possible for parents to take their exes to court if they are failing to communicate or behaving abusively to obtain sole legal custody.

Sole Custody

While courts are extremely quick to award sole legal or physical custody to one parent if they deem the other parent to be unfit, usually due to drug dependency or child abuse charges, it is rare for courts to award sole legal custody when these issues are not in play. Even if there is some animosity between parents, it doesn’t make sense for one of them to seek sole custody unless the other one truly is unfit. Even then, it is not uncommon for the courts to enforce supervised visitation rights.

Joint Custody

Joint legal custody is more common than joint physical custody, but each of these solutions has its advantages depending on the parents’ situations. It is common for children to alternate weeks, months, or even years, or to spend weekdays at one parent’s house and weekends at the other’s house. Although maintaining joint custody agreements can be difficult, it can also be better for children since they will have ongoing, meaningful contact with both parents.

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