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Primary Physical Child Custody: How Does it Work?

Having a divorce can provide peace of mind for you and your family. If you believe that divorce is the best decision for your family, the next step is to consider the child custody process.

For most parents, defining the terms of a child custody agreement can be an overwhelming thought. Nevertheless, with some research, it doesn’t have to be. 

To help you throughout this process, here we will elaborate on what primary child custody is and how it works. 

What Is Physical Child Custody?

Before we elaborate on what primary physical custody is, we must clarify what physical custody entails. 

In physical custody, one of the parents is the primary caregiver. Meaning, they will have the right and responsibility of caring for their child daily. As a result, children will live with the parent which the court chooses to be the primary caregiver. In other words, this parent will be the sole physical custodian of the child. 

What Is Primary Physical Child Custody?

In cases where sole physical custody is not fit for the children, the court may order a shared physical custody arrangement. Shared physical custody divides into primary physical custody and secondary physical custody.

The parent with the primary physical custody has more parenting time than the one with secondary custody. For example, the children may live with the primary physical custodian for 70% of a year (110 nights). Meanwhile, the court may grant the secondary custodian with visitation rights. The goal of this arrangement is to provide stability for the children. 

It is unusual for a court to order parents to share physical custody. In fact, some states don’t legally acknowledge primary and secondary physical custody. 

How Does the Court Determine Which Parent Will Get Primary Physical Child Custody?

First, the court will determine if primary physical child custody is the best for the children. More importantly, regardless of the custody arrangement, the court always bases its decision on the child’s best interest.

For the court to decide if primary child custody is ideal for a family, it will analyze the parenting dynamics. For example, the court may ask questions like:

  • During the marriage, which parent usually puts more time into caring for the children?
  • During the separation, did anything change regarding the parenting responsibilities? 
  • Which parent is more available to invest time into after-school activities that their child takes part in?
  • Does the district, where one of the parents live, have a better school system than the others?
What Are the Benefits of Primary Physical Child Custody?

The main benefit for primary physical custodians is they have more time with their children. Besides this benefit, the primary custodian also gets child support rights. Unfortunately, some parents fight to be the primary caregiver to get child support rather than for the wellbeing of the children. 

What Other Options Do Parents Have? 

The court is the one that gives the final word on child custody. Nevertheless, it is important for parents to discuss all their options with a lawyer. For example, we recommend talking to your lawyers about these types of child custody arrangements: 

  • Joint custody
  • Split custody
  • Third-person custody

Deciding what will happen to children after divorce is a delicate issue; therefore, parents should research about what legal agreements will most benefit the family.

Are you looking for a child custody lawyer? At the Law Offices of Paul Bowen, we can help. We have years of experience with family law. For further information about our services, please call today at (727) 773-1554.