What are some common terms?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Legal Custody – the parent with legal custody can make all decisions regarding the health, welfare and education of the child.

Physical Custody – determines which parent has the actual, physical right to be with the child.

Sole Legal Custody – when one parent is awarded sole legal custody, that parent makes all decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child (and the other parent has no input on these decisions)

Sole Physical Custody – when one parent is given sole physical custody, the child remains with him/her and the other parent is excluded from having physical custody of the child (typically when the other parent has abused or neglected the child)

Joint Legal Custody – both parents participate in reaching decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child.

Joint Physical Custody – both parents have the ability to be with the child, typically joint physical custody is coupled with a parenting plan to determine who will be with the child at what particular time.

Shared Custody – both parents equally share the legal and physical custody of the child. Typically found only where both parents are able to resolve their personal differences and keep them in check for the sake of raising the child in a caring, nurturing environment.

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