What Is Custody? Joint, Legal, Physical …

What Is Custody? Joint, Legal, Physical …

Child custody is a legal term used to describe the legal relationship between a parent and his or her child, giving the parent the right to make decisions and care for the child.

A custody order is a court order that deals with custody. Sometimes, an informal custody arrangement, a de facto custody, is arranged after a break up and the children will live with one parent without a formal legal arrangement. When filing for divorce or legal separation, a custody agreement may be part of a parenting plan and filed with the court.

Joint custody is an arrangement when parents who no longer live together share the care, responsibility and decision making of their child. It is also known as shared custody or joint legal custody, and requires a great deal of willing cooperation between co-parents. When a child spends a significant portion of time with each parent, it is joint physical custody. If a child lives primarily with one parent and the other has visitation, the parent with whom the child primarily lives has full physical custody.

Legal custody can be given to one parent, but most states prefer to award joint legal custody as it is considered in the best interest of the child for parents to make decisions together if possible. Sole physical custody can be awarded with visitation rights given to the non-custodial parent. But again, it is always the preference of the court to encourage both parents to participate in the child’s upbringing unless a parent is unfit and/or a danger to the child.

Temporary custody is sometimes granted during a separation or divorce pending a final agreement. Such agreements may start out as temporary, but may become permanent as determined by a court of law.

Split custody is an arrangement where a child lives a greater percentage of time in the year with one parent, and another child lives a greater percentage of time with the other parent in the year. Third-party custody is an arrangement where the child does not live with either biological parent but lives with a third person.

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