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Types of child custody

Floridians are familiar with the term "child custody." They have heard it many times; they've heard from friends, in the media and around the water cooler. But while the term may seem all too familiar, some may not realize that child custody comes in several shapes and sizes.

The first, and most easily understood, type of child custody is sole custody. As the name suggests, one parent gets complete custody of the child -- though sometimes the other parent will get at least some visitation rights. Sole custody tends to be awarded when one parent is clearly unfit; for example, the parent may have a serious problem with drugs and alcohol.

On the flip side is joint custody. Unlike sole custody, joint custody means that the parents share custody of the child. Perhaps one parent gets the child half the week, the other parent gets the child during the other half. Or one parent gets the child during the school year while the other parent gets the child during the summer.

Joint custody is often broken into two types: physical and legal. Physical custody involves who the child lives with. Joint physical custody is typically reserved for when the parents live near each other. Legal custody, by contrast, focuses on who can make important decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions include where to go to school, what religion (if any) to practice and a host of other key decisions about the child's well being.

To further understand the types of child custody available, and which one might be best for them, Floridians may want to discuss their case with an experienced family law attorney.

Source:, "The Various Types of Child Custody," Accessed on Nov. 4, 2014

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