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What are the various types of child custody?

When facing divorce, there are several issues that are complex and confusing. Child custody is one of them. Understanding the different types of child custody can help divorcing parents identify important aspects of their situation that require attention and may be able to help them better convey their requests to the family court.

Child custody can be generalized into two categories: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to a parent?s right to make important life decisions on behalf of their child. Although it may be hard for some divorcing parents to accept that a family court can grant or deny them this right, divorce leaves a family court responsible for determining what is in the best interest of a child. When a family court grants one parent legal custody, it is generally referred to as "sole legal custody." This type of legal custody is granted to one parent if the court finds the other parent to be unable or unwilling to make decisions for their child. Sole legal custody can also be granted to one parent when the other parent has visitation rights.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. This type of child custody can also be granted solely to one parent or jointly to both. Sole physical custody allows the children of divorced parents to live full-time with one parent. The most common arrangement for divorced parents is to have the children live solely with one parent while sharing legal custody between both parents. This arrangement usually provides the non-physical custody parent with visitation time.

Understanding child custody, especially in the midst of a divorce, can be extremely confusing and frustrating. To better understand child custody and parental rights, divorcing parents may wish to work with a family law attorney.

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Goddard & Malmquist
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