Understanding the Difference Between Physical and Legal Custody

Like most parents, you’re probably worried about how your child or children will fare following a divorce. It’s natural to want as much control as possible over your child’s future, especially if you’re not comfortable making joint decisions with your ex-spouse. Child custody is a sensitive subject and shouldn’t be approached lightly. Before you take any legal action, make sure you can differentiate between physical and legal child custody. Research and knowledge are the best first tools you could have when trying to build a better life for your child.

Where Your Child Will Live

When you’re deciding where your child will live after a divorce or separation, you’re talking about physical custody. It indicates which parent will physically provide a home for the child.

A parent or parents with physical custody get to make decisions about everyday matters. For instance, a custodial parent can decide what the child eats for breakfast, when the child is allowed to visit with friends, whether the child can participate in after-school activities, and when the child attends a dental appointment.

When the child lives primarily with one parent, that parent is said to have sole physical custody. The court usually grants visitation rights to the non-custodial parent. With joint physical custody of your child, you can both share significant periods of physical custody. That means your child’s time will be divided as equally as possible between the two of you. You can contact Ahluwalia Law when you need a skilled attorney to help mediate a dispute or negotiate terms about custody and visitation.

Who Will Make Decisions About Your Child’s Life

The court must also decide who has legal custody, or the legal right to make long-term decisions about your child’s life. These decisions can relate to the child’s overall welfare, education, health, religion, discipline, and overall quality of life.

For example, a parent with legal custody of a child can generally decide where the child will attend school, whether the child will receive medical treatment in an emergency situation, and whether the child will participate in religious activities.

If only one parent receives the right to make these major decisions, that person is said to have sole legal custody. Alternatively, both parents can share joint legal custody, a common practice in California. If you and your ex-spouse went through a difficult split, you may not be on good enough terms to make these decisions together. In this case, or if the court decides one of you is unfit or incapable of making major parenting decisions, it’s more likely that one of you will get sole legal custody. Get in touch with Ahluwalia Law for effective and informative legal counsel about your particular situation.

Other Considerations

The different types of custody can be granted in different combinations. You could get sole legal custody and joint physical custody, sole physical custody and shared legal custody, and so on. A responsible attorney will always advise you to cooperate with your ex-spouse and try to decide on a suitable custody arrangement. You’re more likely to form an agreement that reflects your interests, as well as your child’s best interests, rather than face the lengthy, expensive, and stressful family court process. Ahluwalia Law can advise you on the best course of action and, if need be, effectively defend your rights in a court of law. Contact us today and let us help you secure the most favorable possible outcome in your case.

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Written by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation

Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation

Welcome to Ahluwalia Law, P.C., the home of Attorney Madan Ahluwalia. Madan has been practicing law since 1994, and has been managing his own firm serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1995. He is passionate about building long-lasting relationships with each client, which begins by offering affordable, efficient, and personalized services.