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What Does Shared Physical Custody Look Like?

The most emotional (and important) part of any divorce is the question of the custody of the children. There are many considerations a court must weigh when deciding on the optimal time-sharing arrangements in a particular case, all based on the “best interests” of the children. Generally, though, physical custody will fall under “primary” or “joint” custody, with the latter sometimes being referred to as “shared” custody. 

Legal vs. Physical Custody

Before getting to the nuts and bolts of a shared custody arrangement, it is worth pointing out the two types of custody. One is legal custody of a child, and the other is physical custody. Parents with legal custody of their children have the authority to make decisions and guide their children’s moral, spiritual, and emotional development. In the context of legal custody, joint custody is far more common than sole. 

On the other hand, physical custody simply refers to the location in which the child lays down his or her head at night. Primary physical custody means that one parent’s home is the primary location where the child resides. Shared physical custody generally refers to an arrangement where the child spends nearly half her time with each parent. 

Possible Shared Physical Custody Arrangements

Virginia courts, generally, encourage the involvement of both parents in a child’s life. Sometimes, this means that parents will spend equal time (or relatively close to equal time) physically caring for their children. In this situation, the parents and other parties involved in deciding the terms of the divorce or custody agreement must get creative. Some of the possible arrangements include: 

  • Having a child for a week, two weeks, or month at a time, equally sharing physical custody. 
  • Allowing the child to live with one parent during the school year so as to provide a constant educational influence and another parent during the summer. 
  • In a unique case, one parent could decide to rent an apartment very near to the house the entire family resided in prior to the divorce/separation. Every two weeks, a different parent would live in the house while the children stayed in the house. After two weeks, the other parent would come from the apartment and tag out the other parent. 

Norton Pelt knows that nothing is more important to you than your children. No matter if you must go to court or mediation to decide custody of your children, you need an experienced attorney present who knows the law and can fight for your rights and interests. Call us today at 540-440-7007 to discuss your options. We are currently offering complimentary consultations to all first responders, nurses and other medical staff.

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