Child Custody Definition
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Child Custody Definition

When a couple divorces, property is divided, decisions are made regarding who keeps the home or if both parties sell the home and if children were born of the marriage or children were adopted by the couple during the marriage, Child Custody definition becomes an important.

The couple and court decides where the children live and who makes the decisions about them.

This is referred to as child custody and the decisions surrounding it can be tenuous.

By definition, child custody is the determination of the court that designates a parent, relative or other party as the legal guardian to the child or children.

It gives that appointed individual legal control and responsibility for children who are minors (under 18 years of age). It is not confined solely to divorce, but is a common element in many divorce cases.


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The definition of custody states there are two types, physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody designates the party with whom the child will live; where they will reside. Legal custody gives the custodial parent the ability or right to make decisions regarding the children's welfare.

Temporary child custody is given when a court decision, such as a divorce, is pending or one or both of the parties is under investigation. Temporary custody can be given to a family member, friend or the state until a final ruling is rendered.

Joint custody allows both parents to have custody of the children while living in separate residences. Joint custody can be both physical and legal, or it can be either physical or legal.

In joint physical custody, the children will live with one parent part of the time the other parent the rest of the time. In joint legal custody, both parents are responsible for making decisions regarding the welfare of the children.

Sole child custody means that custody is awarded to only one parent or party. In a case where the mother was awarded sole custody, she is responsible for making the decisions for the children and the children live with her full time.

The other parent, in this case the father, does not have any say in the decisions that are made for the children.

Custodial parent is the term used to describe the parent with whom the children live. They have physical custody.

The definition of custody as says the custodial parent may have legal or joint legal custody with the children's other parent.

Non-custodial parent is the term used to describe the parent who does not have physical custody. While this parent may have legal custody or joint legal custody, they do not have physical custody.

Many non-custodial parents are given visitation rights, allowing them to spend time with their children.

Visitation may include special occasions such as birthdays, parts of vacations, alternating holidays, weekends and other designated days.

It should be noted that if the courts Child Custody definition determines the circumstances are unsuitable for the children or are detrimental to the children's welfare, it can revoke the custody ruling and change custody, awarding it to the other parent or a different person.

For a complete, survival guide to all aspects of divorce, including Child Cusstody and Child Support, we suggest you take a look at Men's Divorce expert Matt O'Connell's, "No BS Divorce Strategies for Men."