Full Custody vs. Joint Custody

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What Is the Difference between Full Custody vs. Joint Custody?

In some child custody cases, the court will need to make a decision as to what type of child custody arrangement will be best for the situation. Two major types of child custody arrangements that the court often orders are: full custody and joint custody.

Full custody is where one parent receives a majority of the custody time and legal rights regarding the child. This parent is often designated the primary custodial parent.

Joint custody is where the parents split physical custody of the child. They may alternate time periods in which the child is spending with one parent. For instance, the child might spend one week with one parent, and then the next week with the other. One parent might retain legal custody however (i.e., one parent might be in charge of major decisions for the child).

What Are Some More Points to Consider Regarding Full and Joint Custody?

There is often some confusion between the terms "full custody" and "sole custody". In general, sole custody often means that the other parent was not given any visitation or custody rights. In comparison, full custody may imply that the other parent was given some custody time as well. However, this may vary by jurisdiction and according to state statutes.

Similarly, joint custody is often compared with shared custody. Shared custody often implies that the amount custody between each parent is as equal as possible. Joint custody simply means that the parties have both been given some custody, though it may be unequally divided between the two. Again, these exact differences and terms will vary from state to state.

When Are Different Types of Custody Recommended?

Full custody is often recommended when one parent is not able to contribute to the child-raising responsibilities. For instance, one parent may be physically incapacitated, incarcerated, or facing other similar conditions. In such situations, the court may grant one parent full custody due to the circumstances.

Joint custody is often awarded when both parents are able to assume responsibilities to some degree. Also, the parents need to be able to cooperate with one another and maintain communications as directed by the court. They will generally be interacting with one another with regards to the child’s schedule and needs. Some joint custody arrangements may involve additional measures such as supervised custody or being in public meeting places when picking up/dropping off the child.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Custody Options?

Custody arrangements are often subject to the decisions and orders of the family court judge. You may need to hire a family lawyer if you need legal assistance with any custody matters. Your attorney will be able to advise you on which child custody arrangement might be best for the situation. Remember that custody is determined according to the child’s needs and requirements first.

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Last Modified: 07-21-2014 12:12 PM PDT

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