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What are the different kinds of child custody?

Going through a divorce can be an incredibly emotional experience. You are asked to work out issues of alimony, property division, child support and child custody, all of which are topics that can take a toll on your mental health. On top of the emotional stress, you are thrown into a world of confusing legal terms and procedures that only add to the feelings of being overwhelmed.

This is particularly true when it comes to child custody. You probably hear terms like physical custody, sole custody, legal custody and joint custody thrown around, and you may have a general idea about what they mean, but aren't exactly sure of all the implications.

With that in mind, let's look at what some of the definitions of these terms:

  • Physical custody is essentially what it sounds like; it's where the child will physically reside. If the splitting parents' households are near one another, the courts may award joint physical custody, which lets the child split time in each household.
  • Legal custody is a term that defines the decisions a parent can make about the child's life. This includes issues like where the child will go to school, what religion the household will practice and the types of health care the child will receive. Judges can also award joint legal custody, giving both parents equal say over these matters.
  • Sole custody means only one parent is given physical or legal custody of the child. This is typically used when one parent is considered unfit.
  • Joint custody is where both parents divide the parental duties.

Of course, these are just basic overviews. If you have questions about these terms or want to make sure your interests are represented when it comes to custody, you may want to consider speaking with an attorney.

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