What are some common terms?

UPDATED: Jul 17, 2023Fact Checked

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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 17, 2023

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UPDATED: Jul 17, 2023Fact Checked

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.

Case Studies: Common Terms in Child Custody

Case Study 1: Sole Legal Custody

In a divorce case, the court awarded Sarah sole legal custody of her child, Emily. As the parent with sole legal custody, Sarah has the exclusive right to make all decisions regarding Emily’s health, education, and welfare. The court determined that joint decision-making with the other parent would not be in Emily’s best interest due to the other parent’s history of neglect.

Case Study 2: Joint Physical Custody

After their separation, David and Lisa agreed to share joint physical custody of their two children, Alex and Chloe. They established a detailed parenting plan that outlined the specific schedule for when the children would be with each parent. The joint physical custody arrangement allows both parents to spend significant time with their children and be actively involved in their upbringing.

Case Study 3: Shared Custody

Brian and Michelle divorced amicably and decided to pursue a shared custody arrangement for their son, Ryan. With shared custody, both parents equally participate in making decisions regarding Ryan’s health, education, and welfare. They collaborate effectively and prioritize Ryan’s well-being, ensuring a caring and nurturing environment for their child.

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Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

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...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

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