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Physical and legal custody: What you should know

Whether you are currently going through the divorce process or you are simply considering filing papers, it is important to understand everything entailed in terminating a marriage. If you have children, you will be forced to deal with the subject of child custody and parenting plans. Not only is it crucial to consider the best interests of the child when determining what type of custody to impose, but it helps to think about how you will interact and co-parent with your former spouse.

Physical custody refers to which parent the child physically resides. Sole physical custody means one parent has the child the majority of the time and the other parent has visitation, while joint custody involves the child living with both parents for equal amounts of time. Studies show that children who are raised in joint custody homes have academic, social, behavioral and developmental advantages when compared to kids who grow up in a sole custody arrangement.

Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to which parent has ultimate say when making important decisions regarding the child. These decisions, such as education, religion, medical attention and health, are usually made by both parents when they are married and raising their child together. However, once parents’ divorce, it may be difficult to determine who has more say when it comes to deciding what happens to the child. Often times, joint legal custody is awarded, meaning both you and your former spouse will work together to make these decisions for the child. If one parent is unable to make these crucial decisions, the judge may award sole legal custody.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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Schipani and Norman, P.A.
1605 Main Street, Suite 1110
Sarasota, FL 34236

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