When parents separate or divorce, one of the main things they will have to figure out is how to share custody of their child or children. Parents can come to an agreement about how they want to share child custody, or they can leave it up to a judge to decide. Either way, the judge will have to look at what is in the child’s best interest to determine what type of custody arrangement would be best for the family. There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical Custody vs Legal Custody
Physical custody means which parent the child primarily lives with. Both parents can share physical custody, which means that the child spends a significant amount of time with each parent. Or one parent can have sole physical custody. Physical custody also determines which parent is making day to day decisions for the child.
Legal custody means who makes major parenting decisions for and about the child. Typically, these decisions involve things like education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
The Different Types of Custody Arrangements
In Mississippi, courts prefer to grant parents joint legal and physical custody unless there is a showing why one parent is not suited to have custody or it is not in the child’s best interest for the parents to have joint custody. Custody arrangements can use any combination of physical and legal custody. As we explain here, it is possible that one parent may have sole legal custody but both parents share joint physical custody.
“Joint custody” typically means joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Joint legal custody means that parents share decision-making authority for major decisions concerning the child. These decisions can include decisions about the child’s education, extracurricular activities, and healthcare. Joint physical custody means that the child spends significant amounts of time with both parents.
“Sole custody” means that only one parent has that type of custody over the child. If one parent has sole custody, that could mean that they have sole legal custody (they are the only parent with authority to make decisions concerning the child) or sole physical custody (they are the only parent that the child resides with). In a situation where the parents argue a lot and cannot reach agreements for the child, a court will likely order that one parent has sole legal custody because it is in the child’s best interest that the parents are not arguing with each other over decisions for the child.
In the past, some courts have assumed that mothers are automatically the better parent to have custody of the child. This was based on the idea that mothers are often more naturally nurturing and gentle and may appear to be more bonded with their child. However, in recent years, courts have moved away from this assumption because we now know that both parents can be capable and nurturing.
When deciding what type of custody arrangement is best for the family, the court looks at what would be in the best interest of the child. Each state has factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Mississippi’s factors are called the Albright Factors.
Finding an Attorney
If you have been searching the Mississippi area for a qualified, experienced family law attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. Our firm can handle your case with a balance of compassion and confidence to guide you through one of the most difficult times a person can go through. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn about your options.
Please also see us on mississippi-lawyers.com and view our reviews on avvo.com, superlawyers.com, and martindale.com. Our email address is mississippi-lawyers.com and our office phone number is (601) 948-4444 option 1.