Joel W. Anders, P.C.
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A primer on physical and legal child custody

The arguments and emotions that come up during a child custody dispute are enough to deal with. Nevertheless, you will also need to understand various legal concepts if you're facing a situation like this.

At the most basic level, you'll need to familiarize yourself with the different types of child custody. There are two primary kinds of child custody: (1) Physical custody and (2) legal custody.

Physical custody

Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the children live. These days parents often share physical custody in a joint, 50-50 parenting plan. With joint physical custody, the child will divide his or her time between two different homes.

Family psychologists generally agree that joint physical custody benefits the children because they'll be able to spend the maximum amount of time with both parents equally. That said, joint physical custody will not work for all families, especially when the parents live far apart or if the parents get into frequent arguments and cannot come to agreement regarding joint parenting decisions.

In many cases, one parent (the custodial parent) will have full physical custody and the other parent (the noncustodial parent) will have visitation rights. This parent might have the children with him or her one or two days a week, or one or two days every other week.

Legal custody

Legal custody refers to the power of a parent to make decisions regarding the child's life, education, health care, extracurricular activities and other aspects of life. In most cases, the parents will share legal custody – even if only one parent has full physical custody. This means that the parent who has visitation rights must be consulted regarding important decisions pertaining to his or her child.

Ultimately, there are many ways that parents can organize physical child custody and visitation time. Therefore, it's important to analyze your options and common strategies for managing custody before you settle on a plan that suits your and your family's needs.

Are your child custody rights in jeopardy?

In a heated child custody dispute, it's possible that a parent will not receive the end-result that he or she desires. Therefore, if your child custody rights are in jeopardy for any reason, make sure you fully understand where you stand in the eyes of the law, and present your case in a strategic and well-organized fashion.

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