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What are the differences between physical and legal custody?

When going through divorce as a parent, your main concern undoubtedly falls on the well-being of your children. Child custody can have considerable impacts on your life and the lives of your children, and therefore, you may wish to understand the various aspects of custody and how they could play into your particular situation. Without the proper information, you could agree to terms that do not fit the best interests of everyone involved.

First, you may wish to better understand how physical and legal custody differ and how each parent could play a role in these types of custody.

Physical custody

Physical custody often comes to mind first when individuals consider child custody. This form of custody involves determining with whom the children will live. In some cases, one parent gains sole physical custody while the other parent obtains visitation rights. This type of arrangement could involve the children staying every day or every weekday with the custodial parent and only seeing the other parent for a few hours or only on the weekends.

In other instances, both parents could gain joint physical custody, and the children stay with each parent for a significant amount of time. This arrangement often works best when the parents live close to one another. For particularly amicable parents, they may have the ability to split the custody time almost 50/50, with children spending half of the week with one parent and the second half of the week with the other parent.

Legal custody

Legal custody may come to mind less often when thinking of custody arrangements, but this type of custody has just as much importance as physical custody. Legal custody involves a parent's ability to make decisions regarding certain aspects of the children's lives. For instance, a parent with this type of custody can decide how to address the children's education, health care and general upbringing.

Joint legal custody occurs relatively often in custody cases. This way, both parents have the ability to have some say in raising the children. Of course, amicable attitudes often work best in this type of arrangement as well, and if one parent tends to make decisions unnecessarily difficult, you may wish to consider seeking a modification to the agreement in hopes of gaining sole legal custody.

In order to ensure that the child custody agreements made benefit your children and provide the best arrangement for everyone involved, you may wish to consult with an experienced California attorney.

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