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How does legal custody differ from physical custody?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2021 | Uncategorized |

When parents in California divorce, they may be very concerned about how much time they will get to spend with their child. It can be heartbreaking to come to the realization that there will be times when your child is out of your care. For this reason, it is essential that child custody orders are fair to both parents and serve the best interests of the child.

What is legal custody?

Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make important decisions regarding the life of their child. This may include which doctors the child will see, what school the child will attend, extracurricular activities, travel and other decisions regarding the child’s welfare. Parents may be awarded joint legal custody in which they both have the right to make key decisions regarding the child’s welfare. Joint legal custody generally works better when parents are able to effectively communicate and cooperate with one another. If this is not possible or healthy for the child, one parent will be awarded sole legal custody of the child meaning that parent alone has the right to make key decisions regarding the child.

What is physical custody?

Physical custody refers to where the child lives on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes joint physical custody is awarded. While children may not necessarily spend exactly the same amount of time with each parent should joint physical custody be granted, joint physical custody can still be established if one parent has slightly more time with the child than the other. Other times sole physical custody is awarded in which one parent has primary custody of the child the majority of the time and the other parent has visitation rights. It is important to note that a judge may award parents joint legal custody but may award only one parent physical custody of the child.

Learn more about child custody in California

Child custody decisions can be one of the most important topics when parents in California divorce. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on family law litigation may be a useful resource for those who have child custody concerns.