What Is Custody?

Custody is a legal term used to describe the rights and responsibilities of parents or guardians in relation to their children. It can refer to physical custody, which is when one parent has primary responsibility for providing day-to-day care for the child, or it can refer to legal custody, which gives both parents equal decision making authority over major decisions such as education and medical care. In some cases, joint physical and legal custody may be awarded by a court if it determines that this arrangement would be in the best interests of the child.

When determining who should have custody of a child, courts will consider factors such as each parent’s ability to provide financially for the child; any history of abuse or neglect; whether either parent has been convicted of a crime; how close geographically each parent lives from one another; and what kind of relationship exists between each parent and the child. Ultimately, however, courts are guided by what they believe is in the best interest of the child when deciding on matters related to custody.

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