What is the Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody?

In California, legal custody involves the right to make choices about your child’s education, health care, safety and other important issues. In most cases, the courts award joint legal custody. The Court may grant sole legal custody to one parent, however, if the other parent abuses or neglects the child.  Sometimes the courts grant sole legal custody when one parent provides the majority of medical care in special needs situation.

child with single momPhysical custody involves the care and housing of the child. In other words, physical custody has to do with where the child lives. The primary custodial parent is the one who cares for the children more than 50 percent of the time, while the parent with visitation rights is the one who cares for the children less than 50 percent of the time. Visitation or time-sharing rights are nearly always given to the noncustodial parent unless it is deemed to be harmful to the child.

Keep legal custody and physical custody out of court!

The Court must make custody decisions based on the child’s best interests. That’s hard for a judge who doesn’t know you or your kids. We recommend that parents make the decisions themselves rather than leaving it to a judge.  There are several options available to parents to facilitate an agreement when parents can’t agree.  Out-of-court options like mediation or collaborative practice are great alternatives to adversarial litigation.

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Category: Child Custody

← What is the Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody?

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