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Child Custody


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About Child Custody

Child custody is a confusing and often complicated subject. The below information will better help you understand child custody definition, types of child custody, and child custody laws. With the right child custody information you can be better prepared and better informed as you make decisions.

Custodial Parent & Child Custody

Custodial parent is a term often used to describe the parent who has physical custody and has obtained the legal right to the physical custody of his/her child either under the provisions of a state law granting child custody or under the provisions of a court order granting custody of the child to one of its parents over the other. It is often the case where the parent who has 51% or more time is referred to as the custodial parent while the parent with 49% or less time is referred to as the non-custodial parent.

Physical Child Custody

Physical child custody involves where the child lives. The determination of physical child custody is often one of the most difficult and challenging tasks of the family court. In most states the overall best interest is the standard for physical custody determinations. Historically, the court has favored mothers over the father in awarding physical custody. However, in recent times more fathers are being awarded physical custody or joint physical custody of their children.

Joint Physical Child Custody

Joint physical custody would indicate that the child lives and spends a significant amount of time with each parent. A parent does not need to have 50% physical custody to have joint physical custody. In fact, 50/50 physical child custody arrangements are rarely awarded. Joint physical custody is being awarded more and more often in child custody cases and there is significant research that points to many advantages for children whose parents have joint physical custody.

Sole Physical Child Custody

Sole physical custody means that the child lives primarily with one parent and visits the other parent. The parent who the child lives with primarily is said to have sole physical custody while the other parent has "visitation rights." Historically, the courts have awarded sole physical custody to mothers more often than fathers unless the father can prove the mother to be unfit.

Primary Physical Child Custody

Primary physical custody is a term often used to describe a parent who has more than 50% timeshare with their child. In other words, the parent who has 51% or more time with their child may say he/she has "primary physical custody." The use of the term primary physical custody may not have any legal meaning as it is not in the family code in many states. For the legal definition of the term primary physical custody and its potential implications you'll want to consult with a local family law attorney.

Legal Child Custody

Legal child custody involves decision making regarding the child's needs. Decisions related to a child's education and health care are examples of decision making rights with legal custody. It is very common for parents to be awarded joint legal custody even in cases where one parent has sole physical custody. In these cases, even though a child may live majority of the time with one parent, that parent may need to consult with the other parent before making any major educational or health related decisions.

Joint Legal Child Custody

Joint legal child custody would indicate parents are both involved in any major decisions regarding the child such as education and health care. Joint legal child custody is very common among parents. One does not need to have joint physical custody in order to have joint legal custody. In fact, many parents who do not have joint physical custody (usually fathers) do have joint legal custody.

Sole Legal Child Custody

Sole legal child custody would indicate that the parent with sole legal custody has the right to make all major decisions regarding their child. In other words, the parent with sole legal custody generally does not need to obtain agreement or consent from the other parent prior to making a major decision on education or health care, etc.

Sole Child Custody

Sole custody is a term used to either describe a parent who has sole physical custody or sole physical and legal custody. Sole custody would indicate that the child lives primarily with the parent who has sole custody -- and possibly that that parent has all decision making rights if he/she has sole legal custody in addition to sole physical custody.

Joint Child Custody

Joint custody is a term often used to describe a parent who has both joint physical custody and joint legal custody. A parent with joint physical custody often has joint legal custody as well.

Child Custody Laws

Child custody laws in general can be confusing and agreements or awards pertaining to physical custody and joint legal custody can have heavy implications. In some states joint custody is common while in others it is not awarded often or at all by judges. For accurate and the most up to date child custody laws it is important to consult with a child custody lawyer in your specific area who is familiar with the laws and procedures so you are properly informed of your rights to make the best decisions possible.

Visitation & Child Custody

Visitation is a term often used and associated with non-custodial parents. Noncustodial parents who do not have physical custody of their child but have the right to visit their child are said to have visitation rights.

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Steven Carlson, The Custody Coach®
Child Custody Coach
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Author: How to Win Child Custody - Proven Strategies the can Win You Custody and Save You Thousands in Attorney Costs!
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