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Legal Child Custody vs. Physical Child Custody: What’s the Difference?

For anyone going through a divorce, it is usually an extremely painful and trying time. It’s even
more challenging if your divorce entails a custody struggle for your children. Such battles can
get very messy when they are not handled in the right manner. If any person is caught up in a
divorce proceeding involving their own child/children, it is very crucial that the person be aware
of their rights as a parent. One of the most important aspects of a child custody battle, is the
types of custody a parent may be given. Let us break it down for you..


Legal custody and physical custody are the two kinds of custody. In most custody battles, both
types generally always shared between the parents. So, what is the distinction between legal
and physical custody? Legal custody entails making decisions about the child’s life, whereas
physical custody entails the child’s daily care. Continue reading to learn more about the various
types of custody and what they imply.


Legal Custody of your Child
A parent with legal custody has the authority to make decisions for the child. Essentially, a
parent who has legal custody of their kid has the authority to make decisions regarding the
child’s medical treatment, education, and religious upbringing, among other things.
While we are in the conversation of legal custody, it is also important to talk about joint legal
custody. In most cases, parents are given joint legal custody, which means they must share
decision-making authority over their children and have equal access to their medical and
educational records.
Unlike physical custody, joint legal custody has no bearing on where the children reside. The
importance of regularly granting joint legal custody would be that the parent who has visitation
rights or secondary physical custody of the children cannot be excluded from any key decisions
impacting the children.
You and your spouse most likely made a lot of decisions together throughout your marriage,
and judges like to keep it that way if at all feasible when you divorce. In most places, the default choice is for parents to share legal custody and continue to make decisions for their children
jointly.

 


Physical Custody of your Child
The parent with physical custody has the right and responsibility to care for the child on a
routine basis. The parent having physical custody has the right to have the child live with him or
her. One parent is usually recognized as the primary physical custodian, while the other is given
secondary physical custody. Primary physical custody is determined by the courts based on a
variety of factors that vary by state, although most jurisdictions place a premium on who seems
to be the child(ren)’s primary caregiver during the marriage.
Whereas, In the case of joint legal custody, one parent will be given final decision-making
authority in the event that the parents are just unable to reach an agreement.

Things to Remember
In some places, for example, a parent who has sole physical custody of the child(ren) is believed
to have the right to relocate with the children. To stop such a move, the noncustodial parent
must go to court and prove that it will be detrimental to the child(ren). So don’t believe it if the
other parent’s attorney tells you that it doesn’t matter if you give the other parent sole physical
custody even though you spend a lot of time with the kids. Consult an attorney to see if your
decision will come back to majorly impact you later.


If one parent has custody of the children for the majority of the time, that parent is usually
given sole physical custody, but the other parent is given the ability to plan time with the
children on a regular basis, known as “visitation” or “parenting time.” One of the most typical
arrangements is for one parent to stay at home with the children. The kids spend the most of
their time there and visit the other parent on a frequent basis. The parent having sole physical
custody is referred to as the custodial parent, while the other is referred to as the noncustodial
parent with visitation rights.


These are the basics of the types of child custody rights that parents can avail in the
unfortunate circumstance that you are caught up in a custody battle.