Physical vs. Legal Custody

In any divorce where children are involved it is common for custody to be a hot-button issue. Often times everything but the custody of the children can be agreed to, and a Chancellor is left to make a determination as to how legal and physical custody will be split.

Legal custody, simply put, deals with decision making. If legal custody is split 50/50 the Chancellor expects both parents to be able to communicate and make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. Those decisions could include which school the child will attend, what doctor they see, and even what extracurricular activities the child is involved with. While physical custody is often what people think of when it comes to a custody battle, the importance of legal custody cannot be underestimated.

Physical custody is exactly what it sounds like. A chancellor determines where the child physically lives. Traditionally one parent received primary physical custody with the noncustodial parent receiving weekend visitation. Today a growing trend is for 50/50 physical custody. This is where the child rotates betweens parents every other week. Whether or not you fall under the traditional custody agreement, or the new 50/50 split it is important to realize that the parent who has primary physical custody is the parent who often receives child support.