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joint custody

n. in divorce actions, a decision by the court (often upon agreement of the parents) that the parents will share custody of a child. There are two types of custody, physical and legal. Joint physical custody (instead of one parent having custody with the other having visitation), does not mean exact division of time with each parent, but can be based on reasonable time with each parent either specifically spelled out (certain days, weeks, holidays, alternative periods) or based on stated guidelines and shared payment of costs of raising the child. Joint legal custody means that both parents can make decisions for the child, including medical treatment, but where possible they should consult the other. Upon the death or disability of either parent, legal custody will go to the remaining parent and will give the active parent the sole ability to act as parent for the child without further order of the court. The primary affect of this is a psychological benefit for the parent and the child, so that a child can be told that both parents cared for the child, even though the child had to live most of the time with one of them.

See also: child custody  divorce 

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