There are two types of child custody: legal and physical.
Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody gives the parties shared decision-making authority with regard to a child’s health, education and welfare.
Parents who share joint legal custody must communicate about the child, including medical care, religious training, education, after-school activities and the like.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody allows each parent to have significant time with a child. Joint physical custody does not have to mean equal time.
An arrangement that is commonly used is alternating weeks for the child, ie., one week with mother then the next week with father.
The ability for the parents to cooperate is an important consideration in an award for joint custody, as is being sure both parents are fit custodians. If the parents have a history of being unable to communicate or work together for the benefit of the child, it is unlikely the court will award joint legal or physical custody.
Instead, the family law court will be forced to decide, in the best interest of the child, which parent should be awarded sole custody, with the other parent receiving visitation of the child.
Article by Attorney Stephanie Woodard, Woodard Law Firm in Columbus, Mississippi
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