What is the Difference Between Physical And Legal Custody?

When spouses go through a divorce, it can affect and change their entire family. This especially so if they are parents. Parents who go through a divorce are required to adjust the lives of their children as well. This includes determining a custody agreement. With this, parents can decide who the child lives and spends the majority of their time with. Custody can also establish the amount of influence a parent has on the upbringing of their child.

There are some cases in which couples are unable to reach a decision regarding a custody arrangement on their own. When this happens, the court is given the right to make these decisions for them. In doing so, the judge comes to a conclusion that is in the best interest of the child. The type of custody arrangement awarded to a family depends on their personal situation.

Physical Custody

When a parent has physical custody of their child, it means they are the individual with whom the child lives and spends the majority of their time. This is why it is also referred to as residential custody. Known as the custodial parent, this parent’s main responsibility is to ensure the child has a stable upbringing. This requires them to provide the child with a home, food, clothes, an education, and more. It is important to know that even though the child lives with the custodial parent, they also spend time in the home of the non-custodial parent. 

Legal Custody

It is crucial that a parent fights for legal custody even if they do not have physical custody of their child. Legal custody is completely separate from physical custody, as it covers a different part of the child’s life. This type of custody allows a parent to have an influence over the important matters in their child’s life. When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to be part of making decisions regarding health care, academics, religious practices, and more. 

How is Custody Determined?

In the event that parents cannot reach a decision regarding custody on their own, they can go to court. When a judge makes the decisions for the spouses, they consider several factors relating to the parents and child before coming to a conclusion. This can include: 

  • If the parent will act in the child’s best interest
  • If the parent can provide a stable home
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Any history of abuse
  • The needs and safety of the child
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age

Contact our Firm

If you or a family member is seeking representation for a child support case, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark LLC., today.