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Understanding the types of child custody and who may apply

Philadelphia parents may be interested in some information about who can apply for child custody and what types of custody are available. Depending on the family situation, different types of custody may be ordered by a court.

There are two major types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is the right of a parent or guardian to take part in major decisions about the child's life. Physical custody is the right of a parent or guardian to spend time with the child. When a court issues a child custody order, it will usually categorize this physical custody as either shared between the parents or primary, meaning that the majority of the time is spent with one parent. Similarly, legal custody will usually be either sole, with one parent making the major decisions, or shared between the two parents.

In Philadelphia, a child must have lived in the city for at least half a year in order for the city to have jurisdiction over a child custody case, except in emergencies and when the child is less than 6 months old. In order to file for custody of a child, the person must be either a parent, someone who has taken on the responsibilities of parenting the child, or a grandparent. A grandparent's application is only proper in a few circumstances, however. These include when the child is at risk of abuse or neglect, the child has been living with the grandparent for over a year or partial custody in cases where a parent has died.

Child custody cases can be difficult to handle without the help of an attorney. An attorney could represent a parent in the custody hearing, negotiate a custody agreement with the other parent or assist a grandparent in taking the proper steps needed to assume custody of a grandchild for whom he or she is willing to take full responsibility.

Source: The Philadelphia Courts, "Child Custody In Philadelphia County", August 26, 2014

Source: The Philadelphia Courts, "Child Custody In Philadelphia County", August 26, 2014

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