Physical custody means a parent’s right to visit and spend time with their child, to have their child physically with them, or to have their child residing with them. Physical custody can be shared between parents. Shared physical custody can be split equally, or 50/50, meaning that the child spends half the time in one household and half the time in the other. Shared physical custody can also mean that a child resides with one parent for five days a week and weekends with the other, or that the child spends the school year with one parent and the summer with the other.

There are so many possible variations of shared physical custody in DC. Consulting with an experienced DC attorney will help you come up with the time-sharing, access, or shared physical custody that is best for you and your child.

How Often is This Type of Custody Awarded?

Shared physical custody is generally presumed under DC law unless the court finds that it is not in the child’s best interest. For example, if a judge finds that a parent has committed domestic violence, that may be a reason to limit the offending parent’s physical custody rights. Shared physical custody is generally recommended because it is presumed that a child benefits from spending time with both of their parents.

Both parents have the right to spend time with their child. Depending on how much time either parent can spend with the child, both parties may want to maximize their physical access. If they are unable to come to an agreement, the court will look at how to best arrange physical custody based on the child’s best interests. You know your child better than a judge, which is why consulting with a DC attorney can help. A member of our legal team can argue for the physical custody schedule that you know is best for your child.

Rights and Responsibilities of a Parent with Physical Custody

A parent with physical custody of their child may not have as many legal custody rights as the other parent. Occasionally, the line between physical and legal custody is blurred if, for example, a medical emergency arises. In that situation, the parent with physical custody must tend to that emergency and could be making legal custody decisions.

If you are sharing custody of your child, consulting with an attorney is critical to make sure the appropriate language concerning any emergencies is written into your custody agreement so that you can protect your child. Of course, the parent who has physical custody also has to attend to all of the child’s socio-emotional needs as well.

Visitation Rights

Physical custody can affect the visitation rights of the other parent. If a parent has sole physical custody, that can mean that the other parent does not have any visitation rights or access to the child. When one parent has physical custody, the other parent cannot exercise visitation. This can be troubling where, for example, a working parent has physical custody but is not physically with the child and is therefore not actually exercising rights to spend time with the child. Physical custody in DC is usually shared, and having an attorney advocate for a court order that maximizes the quality time you get to spend with your child is critical.

An Attorney Could Help You Get Physical Custody in DC

If you need help asserting your rights to physical custody of your children, or if the other parent is denying you visitation rights or access to your kids, you should consider working with a dedicated lawyer. Navigating this complex legal process can be difficult without guidance from an attorney, so you should call our firm today for help with obtaining physical custody in DC.