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Legal and Physical Custody .
  • Divorce and Child Custody

Legal and Physical Custody

There are two types of custody, “legal” and “physical”. Parents typically share both types unless one parent is deemed unfit or the parents cannot make decisions together.

Legal Custody

This is the right to make major decisions about a child’s welfare, such as where a child will go to school or whether a child will engage in religious activities, and whether a child should receive medical care.

Joint legal custody means that both parents share in the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child.

Sole legal custody means that one parent has the right to make all major decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child, and may make decisions without input or approval from another parent.

Physical Custody

Refers to where a child will live after a divorce or separation. The parent has the right to have the child physically present in the home. If a child lives exclusively or primarily with one parent, that parent is usually referred to as the “custodial” or “residential” parent. The other parent is considered the “non-custodial” or “non-residential” parent and typically has visitation rights.

In a divorce there are two types of physical custody, Joint and Sole. Joint means that both parents have significant periods of physical custody. If a child’s time is divided equally between the parents, or close to equally, the parents are sharing joint physical custody. Sole physical custody means that a child resides with one parent, subject to the court’s authority to order visitation time with the other parent.

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