Understanding Child Custody Terms: Sole Versus Joint Custody

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Divorces are difficult enough without having the added worry of your children’s well-being. However, when children are involved, it becomes paramount to figure out custody arrangements that will protect your children while providing them security in the process. The Law Firm of Victoria specializes in divorce and has some of the best child custody lawyers in Michigan. However, it is hard to make custody arrangements if you do not understand the terminology being used.

Physical Custody and Legal Custody

In most divorce proceedings and arrangements, child custody will be discussed in a variety of specific and possibly confusing terms. Thankfully the language is not as complicated as it may appear. For instance, the terms physical and legal custody may sound synonymous, but they actually reference different aspects of your child’s upbringing.

  • Physical custody
    Physical custody refers to the actual guardianship of the child and is mainly used in reference to living arrangements. Therefore, the term refers to where your child will primarily live, where their physical body will be. If they will be living with you most of the time, then you would be considered the custodial parent and likely have primary physical custody.

  • Legal Custody
    Legal custody refers to the right and obligation to make decisions about a child’s upbringing. Therefore, if you are awarded primary legal custody, it means that you are responsible for making decisions about your child’s schooling, medical care and even religious affiliations. While it is possible to receive primary legal custody, more often than not parents are awarded joint legal custody.

Sole Custody

Sole custody, physical or legal, is where you seek out a judgment to be the primary and only parent responsible for making decisions about your child. While there are sole custody lawyers who specialize in fighting these types of cases, and there are circumstances that warrant such actions, most courts are leaning away from sole custody arrangements. The courts are beginning to see value in the role of both parents being involved in the upbringing of their child. Therefore, unless there is a reason for eliminating parental custody, most courts will push for joint custody.

Joint Custody

Because of the shift in the judicial system regarding sole custody arrangements, it is easier to find joint or shared custody lawyers. Joint custody is when both parents share in the responsibility of their child’s upbringing, meaning that they can share both legal and physical custody. Also, depending on the arrangements, parents may only share one or the other. For instance, if one parent lives in another state, they may share legal custody and be included in decision-making, but they will not share physical custody.

Common Joint Custody Arrangements

As far as joint custody arrangements, it is dependent on the parents to find a solution that works best for them and their child or children. Some divorced couples find it easier to have alternating schedules. For instance, they may switch from month to month or year to year. They may also find that it works better for their children by having weekends with one parent and weekdays with another, alternating on holidays. Another arrangement growing in popularity because of the reduced stress on the children is having a family home, where the children permanently live and the parents alternate residing in.

Is a Joint Custody Arrangement Right for Your Child?

Joint custody means that your child remains in contact with both of their parents, which depending on the situation can be beneficial. While the disadvantages of joint custody are parental noncooperation, stress and anxiety, most of these problems can be eliminated by creating a single family home where the children get to live permanently.

Divorce is never easy, and it is especially tricky when you have children. If you are in need of child custody lawyers in Michigan, then contact The Law Firm of Victoria at (248) 723-1600.

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