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What is the legal definition of joint custody?

Are you engaged in a child custody lawsuit and fighting for your right to have joint custody? It's important that you understand exactly what joint custody means under the law. That is because there are two types of child custody that parents hold, and North Carolina parents may want to have joint custody under both of these types of custodial scenarios: legal custody and physical custody.

In a true joint custody scenario, North Carolina parents will share both legal custody and physical custody of their children equally. Legal custody refers to a parent's ability to make decisions about his or her child's upbringing, medical care, education, welfare and more. Physical custody refers to whom the child lives with and who takes care of the child's daily needs.

It used to be that the mother of the child would assume full physical custody, and the father would receive joint legal custody along with visitation rights. Perhaps, the child would spend every other weekend with the father or some other arrangements would be made. These days, things are changing and true joint custody parenting scenarios are more common. However, they do not come without logistical difficulties for the parents and the children involved, and in joint custody situations, the parents must be on good communication terms in order for it to support the best interests of all involved.

The manner in which a divorce happens and is carried out can facilitate the future good relationship of the parents, which can help support a joint custody arrangement. Therefore, parents who want to seek true joint custody are encouraged to make every effort to engage in peaceful, non-contentious and conciliatory divorce proceedings.

Source: FindLaw, "Joint custody," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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