When the term legal custody is used, it ordinarily
refers to the responsibility for making the major decisions
about raising a child, such as the child’s education,
health care, religious training. The term joint legal
custody implies that parents make major decisions together.
The parent who is providing direct care for a child
is responsible for the day-to-day decisions.
The term physical custody usually corresponds with
a child's primary residence, and the term primary physical
custody is sometimes used to indicate the primary residence
of the child.
Joint physical custody or shared physical custody usually
refer to an arrangement in which the child has two homes.
Professional opinions differ as to what living arrangements
are best for children of various ages. There is general
agreement, however, that a young child will need to
see a non-custodial parent more often than an older
child to maintain a meaningful bond.
Each family has its own history, traditions, and needs,
and no one pattern is appropriate of all families. The
Court will usually accept a Parenting Plan to which
the parents have agreed. Although some families, post-separation,
can maintain a highly fluid arrangement, most families
benefit from having a set schedule which accommodates
some degree of flexibility.
The term visitation is becoming an anachronism in some
courts, and many people consider it inappropriate to
describe a meaningful parental relationship which fosters
the growth and independence of a child.
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