Parents all across Alabama usually share the same top priority during divorce — their children. Moms and dads alike focus carefully on things like child custody and support, basing their decisions on what is in their children’s best interests. But since every family in Alabama is unique, no two custody agreements will look alike. For some this means joint custody.

Joint custody can refer to physical custody, legal custody or both. Physical custody refers to where the child actually lives, and with which parent. When a parent has sole physical custody, the child only lives with that parent and may or may not have visitation with the other. When parents share joint physical custody, the child will actually reside at both residences, moving back and forth according to a schedule.

Legal custody is perhaps less well-known than physical custody. Rather than dealing with where the child lives, legal custody involves who gets to make important life decisions for him or her. This includes things like school choice and health care decisions. Many parents who share joint physical custody also share joint legal custody, giving them both the ability to stay active in their child’s life. Parents sometimes also share joint legal custody even if one parent has sole physical custody.

Many parents like the idea of joint custody. Children benefit too, since they are able to maintain positive relationships with both parents. Joint custody does require a certain level of commitment to working together, so this option is usually most appropriate for Alabama parents who are willing to cooperate moving forward.

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