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The different types of child custody

Most people have heard of differing types of child custody being awarded. As a matter of fact, some parties choose to throw words such as "sole custody" and "joint custody" around as threats to an ex-spouse. But, do you really know what they mean in a legal sense? Parents in the middle of a nasty divorce or child custody battle often operate with emotions running high. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to reasonably determine which type of custody will be in the best interests of the children. Here, we define several options.

Probably the most used terminology when parents are in a heated divorce is sole custody. This means that only one parent will have full physical and legal custody. The child will reside with that parent only, and he or she will make all medical and legal decisions without input from the other party. This type of custody is usually only awarded when the other party has either been abusive, or is missing.

Joint custody is always in the best interest of children if both parties are suitable parents. In this type of custody, both parties will split both time and responsibilities of the child. In common situations where one parent is granted visitation with the child every other weekend, or if the parties choose to swap weeks, the custody agreement is almost always joint custody. As such, it allows the parent who is in custody of the child at any given time to make important or emergency decisions when necessary, such as emergency medical care.

Other options may include ordered grandparent visitation. In situations where the parents of children no longer communicate and one has sole custody, the grandparents of the child on the opposite side may still wish to maintain contact. In this case, a court may award them visitation or joint custody.

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