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What types of child custody are available?

If you are in the process of a divorce and there are children involved, you will need to discuss child custody with your soon to be ex-spouse. Considering the love each parent has for their child or children, this is often one of the most heated and contested decisions to be made. Depending on the future living situation of each spouse, there are several options available when it comes to child custody.

One of the most common types of custody is physical custody. Physical custody can come in two forms, joint or sole custody. For parents who will live close to one another following a divorce, the parents may be awarded joint custody, which would allow the parents to share equal time with their child or children. Sole custody is more common, and is awarded to one parent who will be the primary caregiver to the child or children.

Legal custody means that one parent has legal authority when it comes to the decision-making for the child. This may include but is not limited to decisions regarding a child's education, health-related decisions and general upbringing. It is also possible in some states for parents to be awarded joint legal custody, meaning that the decisions regarding their child or children must be agreed upon by both sides.

If it is believed that one parent is not fit to care for their child or children, such as a criminal record or issues with drug or alcohol abuse, sole physical custody may also be awarded. It is important to understand that the court's decision making is largely based on what will be the best interests of the child, in their opinion.

It is important to protect your rights and arm yourself with a strong team to make every effort to see that your child custody wishes are met when entering the courts for divorce. The other side will have a team working hard at their side, and it is likely in your best interest to do the same.

Source: findlaw.com, "The Various Types of Child Custody," Accessed Feb. 20, 2017

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