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How do legal and physical custody work?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Child Custody

Parents going through a divorce can benefit from learning about legal and physical custody. Legal and physical custody can help determine a parent’s child custody rights.

Physical custody is given to a parent who is responsible for maintaining a child’s daily routine. This can include providing food, shelter, clothing, etc. to their child and helping ensure their child goes to school, attends medical appointments and meets daily events. 

Legal custody is a parent’s right to dictate how their child should be raised. This can include making major decisions, such as whether a child will go to private or public school or have a home education, attend church or have a religious upbringing and take on extracurricular activities, including playing a sport or attending after-school programs. 

Parents can have a better grasp of physical and legal child custody depending on whether they have sole or joint custody. Here is how sole and joint custody work:

How do physical and legal custody apply to sole and joint custody?

When a parent is given sole custody, they likely have full legal and physical custody rights. This often means the other parent has little or no involvement in how their child is raised. The other parent may have some visitation custody, but this may be decided by the custodial parent. 

Parents that work together and share physical and legal custody decisions are likely in a joint custody arrangement. Joint custody is often what courts prefer because that means both parents can contribute to their child’s upbringing. 

It can help to learn more about your child custody options if you are a parent going through a divorce. You can learn more by reaching out for legal help.