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Primer on parenting time terminology

The traditional structure of legal and physical child custody exists in our state, but parents going through these legal processes may not always hear these terms when they do their research. This post provides a brief review of the terms and concepts that parties may encounter when they litigate and negotiate traditional child custody matters in the state, but no part of this post should be used by readers are legal advice.

Here, child custody matters are referred to parental responsibilities. Parenting post-divorce or separation is critical to providing a child with what they need to maintain a peaceful and consistent life. There are two components of parental responsibilities, and those are legal and physical responsibilities.

Legal custody or legal responsibilities refer to if a parent has the right to make decisions about their child's upbringing. Physical custody or physical responsibilities refer to where a child will live. Legal and physical responsibilities can be shared between parents or given exclusively to one of a child's parents.

Determining how and where a child will live after their parents end their relationship can be incredibly difficult. Courts look at many factors to decide how best to protect the child's best interests, and those factors can also include speaking with the child to understand their preferences.

A child, however, must be mature enough to have a preference for their words to be considered. Specific issues, like abuse, illness and others can directly affect how a court decides the responsibilities that parents take from marriages and carry over into their post-divorce lives.

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