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What are the different types of child custody?

Knowing what custody arrangements may be available can be important to parents facing child custody concerns. Parents may wonder what different types of child custody there are. There are two general types of child custody that parents must resolve when reaching a child custody agreement. The two categories are physical custody and legal custody and who will have physical custody of the child and who will have legal custody of the child.

Physical custody refers to who the child lives with and legal custody refers to who has the right to make important decisions related to the child's care such as healthcare, education or religious decisions and the overall upbringing of the child. Both types of custody, physical custody and legal custody, can be joint or sole custody arrangements. Joint child custody is sometimes referred to as shared custody.

Joint custody refers to situations when both parents have custody of the child, while sole custody refers to when one parent has custody of the child and the other parent will typically then enjoy visitation rights to see and spend time with the child. Such a child custody arrangement might include if one parent has the child on weekends while the child lives with the other parent during the week. Legal custody is typically jointly awarded, requiring parents to work together concerning the child's upbringing. In general, the trend has been towards favoring joint custody arrangements whenever possible and as long as it is in the best interests of the child.

It is important to keep in mind that whenever a child custody agreement is being worked out, the focus will be on what is in the best interests of the child. The court looks at a number of different considerations to conclude what is in the best interests of the child and it is helpful for parents engaged in child custody situations to understand how the process works and child custody is determined.

Source: Family.findlaw.com, "The Various Types of Child Custody," Accessed Nov. 8, 2017

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