What You Need to Know About Legal and Physical Custody of a Child

Posted on October 28, 2014 by

There are two types of custody which are as follows:

1. Legal custody. This defines who has the authority to make decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare of the child.
2. Physical custody. This defines where the child will physically reside.

Child custody is a difficult topic to discuss given that it typically involves the end of a marriage, the separation of a family unit and heartache for all involved. Deciding who receives legal or physical child custody and how it is shared is an important task for the court to accomplish. Using the same factors outlined above for visitation, the court must determine what type of legal and physical custody to award. There are specific guidelines in place that the court must follow that it make easier to understand the types of custody available and how custody is determined.

What is Joint Legal Custody?

Joint custody means that the both parents share joint legal responsibility for the health and welfare of the child and authority to make decisions that impact the child’s life.

What is Sole Legal Custody?

Sole custody means that one parent or person has the sole responsibility for the health and welfare of the child. This parent has the sole authority to make all of the decisions concerning the child.

What factors determine who has legal and physical custody of a child?

The court is required to consider the same ten factors set out above for visitation to determine legal and physical custody. The court uses these factors to determine which legal and physical custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child.

So the court has made a decision on legal and physical custody and visitation, so what’s next?

If the circumstances of the parents or children change, one or both of the parents may petition the court to modify custody and visitation. The petitioning parent must demonstrate that circumstances have changed and that the child’s best interests will be served by a modification to the previous order.

Child custody cases are extremely difficult for both parents and obtaining an experienced attorney is one way to make the process less complicated for all parties involved.

Categories: Articles, Family Law
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