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The difference between physical, legal and joint custody

Child custody matters are extremely complex, and that complexity never really goes away. Even after you hash out the details and put them down in a custody agreement, you'll likely deal with custody issues in some form or other for years. This is because at the heart of the matter are the relationships between people, which grow and evolve constantly over time.

Laying a strong foundation now can help you deal easier with custody issues in the future. One brick in that foundation is a real understanding of the various types of custody arrangements; that knowledge helps you understand the reasons for choosing certain arrangements in your case.

Two of the most common situations are physical custody and joint custody. Joint custody means that children spend about an equal amount of time with each parent. Sometimes, they alternate weeks with each parent, for example. Joint custody allows children to maintain strong relationships with each parent and family, but it can also be difficult to manage and requires a great deal of cooperation between all involved.

Physical custody is an option that can yield similar results but requires a little less structure and organization. It also allows the child to have a "home base" instead of two disparate bases from which to work. In a physical custody situation, the child spends more physical time at one parent's home but liberal visitation schedules mean the child spends plenty of time with the other parent. Both parents might also retain legal custody, which means they both have rights when it comes to make major decisions about the child.

In some cases, one parent seeks sole custody because the other parent is perceived as a danger to the children. Working with a legal representative in Fort Meyers can allow you to choose the right custody arrangement for you and your kids and fight for it.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody Basics," accessed Sep. 16, 2016

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