Understanding The Differences Between Legal And Physical Custody After A Divorce

Law Blog

If you have children and are getting divorced, you are going to have to decide who will have custody of the children. However, there are also custody terms that will be decided on, which will factor in who gets to make decisions and how often each parent can see them. Here is what you need to know about the differences between legal and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Having legal custody of a child means that you are able to make legal decisions regarding your child's life. This includes where they live, where they go to school, what techniques you will use to raise them, and things of that nature. 

Legal custody can either be assigned as sole or joint between both parents. Sole custody is often used when the other parent is not fit to make decisions about the child or put the child in harms way, which may have been what led to the divorce in the first place. If you have joint legal custody, it means that both parents have an equal role in the decision making. The custodial parent doesn't have more of a say in situations just because the child is living at their home.

One thing to keep in mind about joint legal custody is that disputes can happen between parents, especially because they are divorced and not living together. While the court is not designed to settle small disputes, one parent can use the court to fight for sole legal custody later if a parent is not making good decisions regarding their child.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is used to define who the child lives with. Joint or sole custody can be decided on by the courts, with joint custody meaning a child lives with each parent half the time so that everything is equal between them. The time does not have to be exactly equal, but can be roughly that amount or whatever works best for them.

When a parent is awarded sole custody of a child, the other parent will be granted visitation rights. This is the amount of time that they are allowed to see the child. It can be limited to certain hours on certain days of the month, or long periods of time where the child is temporarily living with the non-custodial parent. 

Work with a child custody lawyer to help with your legal battle regarding custody, which will help ensure you receive the decision you are hoping to get. 

For more information, contact firms like Cragun Law Firm.


30 October 2019