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What does it mean if you have physical custody?

There are two main types of custody that parents can have in Florida. Those are physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions about your child's life, upbringing, medical care, religion and education. Physical custody refers to the parent that the child lives with. If you have physical custody, you will be the parent who offers daily parenting care to the child.

In some cases, one parent will be the only one who has physical and legal custody of the child. This is referred to as "sole custody." Single parents who have sole custody of their children will not have to answer to the other parent when it comes to the decisions they make regarding their children or child. However, the other parent might have visitation rights that must be honored.

In other situations, both parents will share legal and physical custody. In these situations, the child or children might be with one or the other parent for 50 percent of the time, meaning that the parents share equally in the parenting responsibilities. There are virtually an unlimited number of ways that two parents can share their parental responsibilities between each other. However, in cases of shared physical and legal custody, it is essential that the parents are able to communicate with one another easily and regularly reach mutual agreement on parenting decisions.

Divorcing parents may want to consult with a Florida family law attorney before deciding what type of child custody arrangements and parenting plans are right for them. An experienced attorney will be able to advise the parents what the court would likely decide in a case, as well as provide guidance on a suitable strategy that serves the best interests of the child or children involved.

Source: FindLaw, "Physical Custody," accessed Dec. 30, 2016

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