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What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Child Custody

After a divorce and if you have children, you may be able to work out a child custody agreement and establish your parental rights. 

One of the things you can work out is physical and legal custody. Determining physical and legal custody can seem confusing at first. But, you can learn how these terms are fairly simple by reading the following:

Where your child will live

Physical custody, simply put, determines where a child will live after a divorce. In other words, a parent with physical custody rights will see your child the most often. Many parents share physical custody and rotate where their children will live and which parent is supposed to care for their child. 

Who has control over your child’s upbringing 

While physical custody establishes where a child lives, legal custody determines each parent’s right to raise their children. Legal custody may be shared so that each parent has some right to decide what’s best for their children. But, some parents are awarded sole custody when it’s determined that the other parent is unfit to raise their child.

Legal custody could decide, for example, a child’s religious upbringing, where a child goes to school, who manages their health care and what foods they can eat. Essentially, legal custody can help establish a long-term plan for raising a child. 

Understanding your rights as a parent 

You may want to learn more about your legal rights when making a child custody agreement. By knowing your rights, you could get an outcome that protects the precious parent-child relationships that you already have.