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Understanding the basics of child custody


Divorcing couples have a lot of decisions that have to be made before their divorce is finalized. These decisions can have a long term impact on the couple's lives and therefore people need to know how the decisions will affect them going forward. In many cases, the decisions surrounding the custody of their children are very important. Not only do child custody issues affect the parents but they greatly affect the lives of the children.

Rhode Island parents need to have a basic understanding of child custody terms and issues in order to make the best possible decisions during a child custody dispute. First, parents should understand the different types of custody.

Generally there are two types of custody -- physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody is the decision making power over broad issues in the child's life. This includes the child's healthcare, the child's religious upbringing, the child's education and other similar concerns. Generally, legal custody is shared equally by both of the child's parents.

The second type of custody is physical custody. Physical custody is a decision about who is going to physically take care of the children most of the time. In some cases, sole physical custody will be awarded. With sole physical custody -- or primary placement, as its often called in Rhode Island -- one parent will live with the children and the other parent will be allowed visitation or parenting time with the child. In other cases, a shared placement -- or joint physical custody -- plan can be created. In these situations, both parents have time with the children.

In any case, these decisions will be made in the best interests of the child. An attorney can help to better explain how these terms affect an individual case.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Child Custody Basics," accessed Nov. 10, 2014

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