Parents in Mississippi who are going through the divorce or separation process may be keenly interested in one issue: child custody. People with children have probably heard that joint custody may be an option, but what is "joint custody"? There are actually two kinds of joint custody arrangements. One is fairly common, the other is less common.
The more commonly available joint custody option is joint "legal" custody. Legal custody does not necessarily refer to which parent the child lives with. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make long-term decisions about how the child will be reared. It is common for family law courts to award joint legal custody to the parents, so that each parent has a say in where the child goes to school, what religion the child will practice and so on. One parent may still be awarded "physical" custody - meaning the child primarily lives with that parent - even if the parents share legal custody.
Sometimes, family law courts will award the parents joint legal and physical custody. This means that the child will live about an equal amount of time with each parent in addition to the parents sharing responsibility for major decisions about the child's upbringing. Joint legal and physical custody arrangements have the advantage of providing the child with roughly equal amounts of time with each parent. They have the disadvantage of potentially causing stress for both the child in the form of disruption of routine and for the parents in scheduling and each having to provide living space for the child.
Depending on the circumstances, either option may be available to parents in Mississippi.