If you are separating from your partner, then you may be forced to enter into a battle for child custody or forced to fight for fair child visitation rights. The world of family law can be filled with confusing, technical terminology, but it is important that you learn the meaning of some of these terms, so that you can develop a proper understanding of what is going on with your family.

Legal Custody
Legal custody refers to the right to make legal decisions on behalf of your child. These decisions can include things like where the child goes to school, what medical care your child receives, what religion they practice and other decisions regarding their personal assets.

Joint Legal Custody
When parents have joint custody over a child, both parents (or two different people who have a relationship to the child) have equal rights to make decisions for their child. Any major decisions taken for the child should be agreed on by both custodians.

Sole Legal Custody
If one partner is given sole custody, they are given full power over the rights of the child. Whilst child visitation rights may be granted, the other parent does not have legal influence over the upbringing of the child, or the child’s legal assets.

Physical custody
Physical custody refers to the right to have the child live with you are your residence. A person with child custody must ensure that the child is adequately housed. It is possible to have sole physical custody of a child or joint physical custody. In cases of joint physical custody, both parents must ensure that the child is adequately provided for. Even if you do not have custody of your child, you may be given the right to visit your child.

Mediation refers to the attempts which are made to come to an arrangement. Mediation sessions usually involve a neutral third party, who will seek to assess the facts of the case, whilst working with yourself and your solicitors to come to an arrangement which is suitable for all parties. Mediation sessions will always consider the needs of the children involved. This may have been arranged privately or through family courts.

Custody Arrangement
The custody arrangement is the agreement which is ultimately reached between all parties, relating to the legal and physical custody of the child. Because these arrangements are created based on elements which were negotiated during the mediation process, each family will have their own unique custody arrangement. As well as details of legal and physical custody, the arrangement may include a child visitation schedule, a vacation schedule, a schedule of festivities and holidays, and any other specific stipulations which may have been decided on. If the mediation has been formal and arranged through the courts, this custody arrangement will be subject to a court order.

Contempt of Court
If either party breaks the Court Order, they are said to be in Contempt of Court, and a family law judge may take action against that party.

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