What is the Difference Between Physical And Legal Custody?

What is the Difference Between Physical And Legal Custody?

When a couple goes through a divorce, they must figure out the new arrangements in their lives. If they have children together, one of those arrangements is custody. Custody agreements determine which parent with whom the child will spend the majority of their time. It also establishes the amount of influence each parent has in the child’s life. Courts hope that parents can reach an amicable agreement that benefits the child. If they cannot do so, the court will step in and the judge can make this decision for them. Different custody arrangements are available to be considered by parents during a divorce.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is also known as residential custody. This is because it settles where they live and spend most of their time. This parent is also referred to as the custodial parent because they are the child’s main guardian. Despite which parent has physical custody and where the child lives regularly, they will also spend time in the non-custodial parent’s home.

Legal Custody

It is very important for parents to understand what legal custody is when they are determining custody arrangements. While physical custody determines where a child lives, legal custody pertains to a different part of a child’s life. A parent should still fight for legal custody even if they do not have physical custody of their child.

When a parent has legal custody of their child, it means they have a say in the important decisions throughout the child’s life. This allows them to have an influence on the decision making for issues such as health care, academics, religious practices, and more. This is important because it allows both parents to be involved and have a relationship with their child. It can also be beneficial in the event that a custodial parent wants to relocate with their child. Legal custody allows the non-custodial parent the right to speak up in these situations.

How is Custody Determined?

When a custody case goes to court, a judge is given the right to make the final decision regarding a custody arrangement. The judge comes to this decision by considering many factors about the parents and their child. This may include but is not limited to:

  • If the parent will act in the child’s best interest
  • If the parent can provide a stable home
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Any history of abuse
  • The needs and safety of the child
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age

Contact our Firm

If you or a family member is going through a divorce and seeking legal representation for child custody, contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick today.

Anderson, Converse & Fennick is an experienced law firm in York County, Pennsylvania focusing on Education Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation matters. If you need a knowledgeable attorney that will effectively represent your interests, contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick today.

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