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Child custody vocabulary: Do you know these terms?

Most Florida parents who find themselves in a difficult child custody disagreement will contract an attorney to help them navigate their legal proceedings. In this respect, parents will not need to know everything about Florida family law. They can rely on their attorneys to help them. That said, if parents know certain terms, it will help them communicate with their attorneys toward the result they desire.

Here are some common child custody terms that will be useful to you in this regard:

Legal custody: Legal custody refers to your decision-making authority over the affairs of your child. When you have legal custody -- and often you'll receive shared legal custody with the other parent -- you will have the power to decide issues pertaining to your child's religion, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, discipline and more.

Physical custody: Physical custody refers to who your child lives with. Parents with physical custody are the ones who care for a child's round-the-clock needs, such as food, shelter, driving the children too and from school and activities and more. These days, it's becoming more common for parents who can work together to share physical custody. In this case, the child would divide their time living between both parents' homes.

Joint and sole custody: These terms refer to whether a particular type of custody is shared (also known as join custody) or whether one parent has full custody (also called sole custody).

Custody and visitation schedules: Parents need to set up a custody or visitation calendar. This should include regular weekly arrangements as well as arrangements for holidays and school vacation time.

Parenting plans and custody agreements: In these documents, the parents will lay out the terms and conditions of how they will share parenting responsibilities. Within your parenting plan will be the custody or visitation schedule, the terms of legal custody and other important matters to address and agree to in advance.

This is a short list, and you'll probably encounter many terms you don't understand during your child custody legal process. Make sure to learn about and investigate any legal terms you don't know. Most importantly, never be afraid to ask your family law attorney for clarification on a particular issue.

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