Legal Custody versus Physical Custody

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Sorrentino Law

Legal Custody versus Physical Custody

Having children doesn’t always mean having your children. In the case of parental separation, whether prior to or after the birth of a child, understanding the difference between legal and physical custody will have a direct impact on the trajectory of your children’s upbringing.

Legal Custody versus Physical Custody

What is the difference between physical custody and legal custody?

Custody is essentially the legal set of boundaries constructed by law for parents and their children.

Physical custody: Physical custody refers to where children physically live. A parent with sole physical custody would have a child that only resides with them. Joint physical custody means a child shares time living with both of their parents. A parent who does not have physical custody may still have visitation rights, meaning that they may still see their children despite their children not living with them.

Legal custody: Parents with legal custody can make legal decisions on behalf of their children, such as where they go to school and how they are treated at hospitals. Like physical custody, separated parents can either have sole or joint legal custody.

How do courts determine custody?

Many factors determine joint or sole physical and legal custody, including:

  • Whether the parent wants any custody altogether
  • The child’s wishes
  • Health, emotional, physical, and mental, of the parents
  • Whom the judge deems fit to be a child’s custodian
  • Where the parents live
  • The stability of the home in which the child is to reside

Who can help you with questions on custody?

Though some couples successfully co-parent without having legal boundaries set, a custody agreement can protect and strengthen the best interests of you and your child. Contact Andrew Sorrentino law