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Physical vs Legal Custody – Understanding the Difference

Even with the aid of an uncontested divorce lawyer in San Antonio, TX, certain details and logistics still need to be ironed out. Child custody is often one of the first matters discussed, and it’s essential that you understand what it entails for you and your children. Along with financial concerns, custody is one of the most hotly contested points of agreement. But it’s in the best interest of the child that it be settled quickly and amicably. However, there are many different types of custody. It’s a good idea to know how they differ, and why they matter.

Physical Versus Legal

Physical custody is aptly named. The child lives with the parent that has physical custody. Many parents will agree on joint custody, which could mean that the child lives with one parent over the summer and another during the school year. That’s a common arrangement. So although one parent has primary physical custody, the other may house the children over the weekend or specific holidays. Visitation rights are typically discussed along with physical custody, so you should keep that in mind as well.

Legal custody is another matter altogether. The parent with legal custody has the ability to make legal decisions regarding the child. This might be in regard to whether or not the child is allowed to work at a certain age, making medical choices on the child’s behalf, or determining if the child is able to leave the country for a trip. All of those matters fall under legal custody. It’s possible for both parents to be involved in such issues, but that will have to be specified at the custody hearing.

Other Types Of Custody

Sole custody is when one parent has both exclusive legal custody and physical custody of the child. The other parent may be granted visitation rights, but doesn’t have any custodial rights and is not allowed to make legal decisions regarding the child. Sole custody tends to be uncommon, but it is possible. In some cases, sole custody is granted because one parent doesn’t have the means or ability to care for the child.

As mentioned above, joint physical custody and joint legal custody are quite common. With joint physical custody, one parent may house the child for most of the year, while the child lives with the other parent on weekends or at certain times of year. With joint legal custody, legal matters have to be discussed and agreed upon by both parents.

Joint custody arrangements occur frequently, but it’s essential that the logistics be determined carefully. Your divorce attorney in San Antonio, TX, should be able to help you narrow down your options. Don’t hesitate to contact the legal professionals at the Law Offices of Steven C. Benke if you need legal advice or assistance. It’s important that you protect your rights as a parent and look after the best interests of your child.

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