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Child custody basics

When a couple with children decide to go their separate ways, one of the most important issues that must be settled is child custody. Determining where the children will live and making decisions on their behalf must be completed and should be done with the best interests of the children in mind.

There are several types of custody that parents can consider when putting together a parenting plan. The first type of custody refers to the physical location of the child. Joint physical custody means the child lives at both parents' homes and switches off as agreed on. Sole physical custody means that the child lives with one parent, but the other has regular visitation.

The other type of custody is legal custody. In the case of joint legal custody, both parents make decisions about the child's upbringing, such as deciding where the child will go to school, medical issues and religious affiliations. If one parent has sole legal custody, then that parent alone can make decision regarding the upbringing of the child.

The two types of custody can be combined in several ways. A couple might have both joint physical and legal custody, only one parent might have both legal and physical custody or they could be split -- one might have physical custody but both have legal custody. How custody is determined is based on the parenting plan, or in the event that the parents cannot agree, the court can determine the custody arrangements.

Couples who are considering a divorce should seek advice from an experienced legal professional who can assist with answer questions. Knowing what to expect can help a person make an informed decision that is best for everyone involved.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody," accessed June 17, 2016


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