What is the Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody?

What is Legal Custody?

Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make decisions for the child. These decisions are pertinent to the child’s life and can involve many different areas. Parents make decisions about their child’s education, medical needs, and religious matters. If a parent has sole legal custody, that parent is the only one who has the legal right to make those decision. If both parents have joint or shared legal custody, that means they should work together when making decisions for their child. However, sometimes a parent may try to overrule the other and make decisions without dual consent. In these situations, a parent may also have the right to challenge the decision.

What is Physical Custody?

When a child lives with one parent, that parent is considered to have physical custody. This parent is commonly referred to as the custodial parent. The parent who has visitation with the child is commonly referred to as a non-custodial parent. In these situations, the other parent usually has a set visitation schedule which can be set in a parenting schedule. However, if parents are amicable and it is reasonable for the child, they can have joint or shared physical custody of the child. Sometimes the post-relationship or post-divorce situation is one where it may make sense for the child to have shared custody.

What Does the Court Consider When Determining Custody?

The court aims to make a decision on custody based on the child’s best interest. In doing so, the court can use a number of different factors to determine custody. They may look at the parent’s ability to care for the child, the parents overall physical and/or mental health, and even the parent’s respective work schedules.

If you need assistance with your child custody matter, you should consult with an divorce and/or family law attorney. An experienced attorney can help advise you of your rights, assess the facts of your matter, and help guide you through the child custody process.

If you require experienced legal representation for any of your divorce and family law matters, contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Paige, P.C. today to schedule a consultation.