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When it comes to child custody, what does physical custody mean?

After divorce or separation, it can be difficult to determine how great a role each parent will get to play in the lives of his or her children. For parents in Massachusetts and elsewhere, the topic of child custody can be quite contentious. This is especially true when trying to figure out how physical custody will be handled.

What does physical custody mean? In child custody cases there are two custody types that must be decided, which are physical custody and legal custody. When a parent is granted physical custody, this means the his or her children will be living with him or her post-divorce/separation.

There are actually two types of physical custody: sole and shared. When one parent is granted sole physical custody, this means that he or she will be given the children full time. In such cases, the non-custodial parent may be granted visitation time — if it is deemed appropriate. If shared physical custody is ordered, this means that children will split their time between their parents. The amount of time each parent is granted may vary based on individual circumstances.

Parents in Massachusetts who are struggling to figure out the best child custody arrangements for their families may seek assistance. An experienced family law attorney may be able to provide detailed information about the different custody options and the potential advantages and disadvantages that each may offer. While determining child custody arrangements can be a challenge, making the best choices for one’s family certainly is possible.

Source:, “Know the Laws: Massachusetts — What options are there for physical custody?“, Accessed on June 29, 2016


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