Legal definition of child custody
Divorce & Separation Legal Terminology

child custody

Child custody is the right and duty to care for a minor child on a day-to-day basis and to make major decisions about the child. In sole custody arrangements, one parent takes care of the child most of the time and makes major decisions about the child. In joint custody arrangements, both parents share in making major decisions, and both parents also might spend substantial amounts of time with the child. Source: ABA Family Legal Guide

There are different types of child custody. There is physical custody and legal custody. Parent that was granted phisical custody oversees a child's everyday living. Legal custody involves decision making authority for key issues arising in a minor's life, such as religious upbringing, what schools to go, medical procedures to take, what extracurricular activities to take.
Court may award either sole custody or joint custody. Joint custody gives both parents broad decision-making authority. The court makes custody determination based on "the best interest of the child".

Among the factors affecting child custody are: the love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child, age of both parents, earning abilities, wishes of a child, time each parent may spend with a child, the moral fitness of the parents, parent's mental and general health, evidence of previous instances of child abuse, etc.
Child custody determination means a judgment, decree, or other order of a court providing for the legal custody, physical custody, residential care, or visitation with respect to a child. The term includes a permanent, temporary, initial, and modification order. The term does not include an order relating to child support or other monetary obligation of an individual.
Source: Florida Domestic Relations. website
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