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Should You Ask for Full Custody?

If you’re separating from your child’s other parent, one of the main issues to negotiate is child custody. Parents often wonder whether they should fight for full custody or share joint custody with their ex. Here’s an overview of custody, and when it’s a good idea for one parent to retain full custody.

Types of custody

There are two types of custody: physical custody, or who is physically caring for the child, and legal custody, which is decision-making power over the child’s medical care, religion, school and other considerations.

Parents can share both types of custody, or custodial rights can be given to one parent. This is usually decided on a “best interests of the child” basis, but parents can also come to an agreement on their own. In some cases, it may make sense to give full physical custody to one parent, with visitation rights, and share legal custody.

When to ask for full custody

Requesting full custody is sometimes in the best interest of the child. For example, if one parent plans to move hundreds of miles away, sharing physical custody would be difficult to coordinate. One parent might get full physical custody, while the other gets visitation rights and shared legal custody. This is also helpful when the child is a breastfeeding infant or otherwise needs the stability of staying in one home.

If a parent is abusive, neglectful or otherwise a danger to the child, full physical and legal custody may also be awarded to just one parent. The noncustodial parent may still be allowed to see the child through unsupervised or supervised visitation. In extreme cases, a parent may not be allowed any visitation. Talking to a lawyer can help you understand your legal options.

When you need help negotiating or requesting custody rights, talk to the trusted custody lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN today.

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