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Joint vs. sole custody in Mississippi

When Mississippi parents get a divorce, they must come to an agreement on several issues including child custody. There are two types of child custody: legal and physical. Parents who have legal custody over a child are able to make legal decisions that impact the child such as health, education and general welfare. Parents who have physical custody of the child are able to provide the child with a home and daily care.

Parents can also have joint or sole custody of their child. They can negotiate an arrangement that best suits their situation however, if they are unable to come to such an agreement, the court will decide the custody arrangement based on the best interests of the child. Parents who are granted joint legal and physical custody will share in the decision-making on behalf of the child and in the child's daily physical care. This is typically not an arrangement ordered by courts because parents who are able to cooperate regarding physical custody will usually be able to cooperate regarding legal custody as well and often come to an agreement outside of court.

Courts may grant parents joint legal custody, but give sole physical custody to one parent with the other parent having visitation rights. One parent may also be granted sole legal and physical custody of the child and the other parent having the right to regular visitation. Even when one parent has sole legal custody of the child, the other parent still has the right to information such as health and education regarding a minor child.

Courts will consider several factors in determining what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child. The child's age, health, sex, ties to the home and community and personal preference (if the child is old enough to make such a decision) will be considered.

Other relevant factors are the parent's age, parenting skills, willingness and capacity to be the primary caregiver, employment, physical and mental health and moral fitness. Courts will also consider the stability of each home environment, the emotional relationship between each parent and the child, which parent assumed more of a primary caretaker role prior to the separation and other factors the court deems relevant to the child custody arrangement.

Source: Topical

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