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What are the differences between sole and joint custody orders?

Divorce is a serious step in anyone’s life. Dissolving a partnership has legal consequences. It also has emotional consequences. For those couples with children, the path forward may be particularly hard. It’s important to understand how the decision to work with children as the divorce goes on is crucial. Both parents should understand what specific terms relating to children and divorce actually mean. One of the most important is that of the concept of custody. In the aftermath of any divorce, issues relating to custody will quickly arise. The question of caring for the needs of children may present special obstacles that must be resolved as the divorce comes to a conclusion. Parents want the best for their children. Judges want to see that the divorce does as little as possible to disrupt a child’s life. This is where all parties involved in the divorce need to come to an agreement. This agreement is typically known as a custody order.

The Question of Custody

Custody can be a confusing term that may not be immediately clear. It is important to keep in mind there are lots of types of custody and each one has a highly specific legal meaning. Simply put, the term means who gets to control and make decisions regarding the child’s circumstances. They are the people who will decide where the child goes to school, where that child lives and other issues such as how much money may be spent in caring for the child’s needs such as clothing and school supplies. The parent is also responsible for specifics such as how to respond in the event of a sudden medical issue or if the child wishes to travel to another state or another country. A person who has custody over the child is the person who is responsible for making decisions about them legally. In general, parents should be aware of two basic terms that have much to do with many custody arrangements for children in the aftermath of any divorce proceedings in the United States. These two terms are sole custody and joint custody.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is when one person and one person only is in charge of making decisions about the child. Sole custody may take two further forms. Legal custody is when that parent is one who makes legal decisions for that child. For example, if the child is responding to an issue such as drug addiction the parent with sole legal custody is the parent who will decide how best to respond to this issue and what avenue of treatment to pursue. This is often a form of legal custody that can be carried out in the event of a problem with the other parent’s decision making or their inability to care for the child because that parent is unable to do so. The parent may have an issue such as current imprisonment or may be accused of and guilty of child abuse. In that case, the other parent will be granted sole legal custody. Another form of sole custody is what is known as sole physical custody. Sole physical custody means that this parent is in charge of the child’s physical needs. They are the only person who is responsible for keeping a roof over the child’s head and putting food in their belly. They may also be the person entrusted with providing that child with access to medical care via their work. Sole custody is one that requires the parent to step forward and assume the major responsibility for raising that child in every way.

Joint Custody

Another form of custody is what is known as joint custody. Joint custody is becoming increasingly more popular. Many courts recognize that a child ideally needs to be around both parents as much as possible. When there’s a joint custody order, each parent has a say in the child’s life. Each parent must be consulted in the event of any kind of medical issues. This form of custody is also common when parents live near each other. A child may spend half the week at one parent’s home and the other half with the other parent.

It’s possible to have a mixture of both forms of custody. One parent may have sole legal custody. Both parents may have joint physical custody where they are each responsible for the child’s medical and physical needs. It’s best to understand such legal terms and what they mean fully.

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