Legal Custody

By Staff Writer

The Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody
Legal custody is different from physical custody. Child custody agreements dictate that you make decisions determining both aspects. Legal custody involves decision-making and responsibility for choices affecting your child's quality of life. These could include the school he goes to, the church he attends, the medical care he receives, and the social groups he is allowed to participate in. Usually parents share legal custody.

Physical custody determines where the child will live, and with whom. If one parent has sole responsibility for housing and caring for the child, they are said to have primary custody. The non-custodial parent has visitation rights to see the child and have an ongoing relationship with the child.

With joint child custody, the parents share the responsibilities of housing and care for the child. Parents are free to agree on any schedule of joint custody which fulfills their needs and work obligations. Courts will generally approve any mutually-agreed upon schedule as long as it puts the child's stability and happiness first and foremost.

Different State Divorce Laws
Many states look upon joint custody as the preferred option. However, one state, South Carolina, does not allow joint custody. Each state has its own laws governing child custody, and may specify certain rights and duties that you and your spouse are responsible for even after signing a child custody agreement. Check recommended websites to be clear on your state's requirements.