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What Parents Need to Understand About Full Physical Custody

Posted by Tashfeen Haq on June 3, 2012 at 4:30 PM

During a child custody case, often parents think "full physical custody" means that the child with stay with a parent full time. Also, often parents think if both parents have "joint physical" custody, then both parents will have "equal" amount of "time".

This is not always true!

A parent can have full physical custody, but the other parent can have various amount of visitation rights (from a lot to very little). If a parent is asking for full physical custody, and gets it, but the other parents has the child overnights during weekdays, did the parent with full physical custody get what he/she wanted? Unless the parent with full physical custody actually got what he or she wanted, the answer is "no".

"Full physical" custody does not necessarily mean that the child will be with a parent  full time. That's why parents generally should not focus on the words "full custody".

Instead, parents should focus on how much "timeshare" they can have with the child. For example, one parent can have full physical custody, but if the other parent gets two or three overnight visitaiton during the week with the child, or gets the child one week on, one week off, then the timeshare works out to be equal or almost equal.

However, parents SHOULD ask for full physical custody if the other parent has done something that makes his or her parenting skills questionable. For example, if the other parent has:

1) domestic violence record or the domestic violence occurred in the presence of the children, or

2) has recent criminal record or DUI record, or

3) has drug or alcohol abuse problems, or

4) has a mental condition (e.g. severe bipolar disorder), or

5) has a history of child abuse, child neglect, or child molestation, or

6) anger management issues, PTSD,

then definitely the other parents MUST ask for FULL PHYSICAL custody.

But without any or some of these criterias, most of the time both parents will end up getting joint phsyical custody. Thus, parents should focus on what amount of "time" (i.e. timeshare) they will get, and not necessarily about whether they have "full physical" custody.

Parents should also focus on preparing for CHILD CUSTODY MEDIATION (read our blog about "what not to do in mediation")


Categories: Child custody