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What is the Difference Between Physical and Legal Custody?

If you are currently determining custody of your children post-divorce, you may be confused by some of the legal terminology. A lot of times, the courts will refer to legal custody and physical custody. You may not be aware that these are two different custody arrangements concerning the way that parents decide their authority over the children as well as where the children are going to live.

Legal custody refers directly to the decision aspect of the parenting. This refers to which parent will make decisions regarding the child's education, religion, healthcare, travelling arrangements, living arrangements and more. The parent with legal custody becomes the one who makes executive decisions that directly affect the child's life. In some cases, the court may grant joint legal custody of a child.

This means that both parents have the right to make decisions that affect the child's present and future circumstances. Typically, courts will only award joint legal custody to amicable ex-spouses that have already proven their ability to work together. In most situations, the courts will choose one parent and give that adult sole legal custody of the child. This means that the one parent with this custody has permission to make all decisions regarding the child's welfare.

The court will also have to make decisions regarding a child's actual place of residency. This is called physical custody. In some cases, the court will award joint physical custody, which means that the child will live with both parents. In other situations, one parent will get sole physical custody. Even in joint physical custody situations, one parent will normally become the primary custodian and spend more time with the children. Parents can have joint physical custody and the courts may still award sole legal custody to one parent. If you want more information about custody arrangements of this nature, talk with a Denver divorce attorney at Sturniolo & Associates today!

Categories: Family Law, Divorce
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