What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?


The finer points of custody can be confusing and it’s important to understand that there is a difference between legal and physical custody.

Legal custody determines who can make legal decisions for a child. Issues such as education, medical decisions, and religion fall under the umbrella of legal custody. In terms of legal custody one or both parents may be awarded legal custody. There are pros and cons of joint legal custody, and each family’s legal custody situation is unique. If a divorce is particularly contentious, joint legal custody may prove difficult while a more amicable divorcing couple may find that joint legal custody works for them.

Physical custody refers to where the child will live who will be have the hands on primary parenting duties. Physical custody, like legal custody, can be awarded to one or both parents. Again, there are pros and cons to joint and sole physical custody and the courts bases its decisions on both forms of custody on the best interest of the child.