Legal Custody – What Does It Mean?
When it comes to court language, it can easily get confusing if you don’t happen to be a lawyer. During a divorce involving children, many will benefit by doing some outside research of their own pertaining to child possession laws. Having a good family law attorney is usually a good idea as well.

On the subject of custody, there are different types of custody that a court can grant. The first is physical custody. This means a parent has been granted the rights for the child to actually live with them. Some states can have joint physical custody, which means the child has a 50% of their physical time with each parent. This works well if it is the case that the parents live relatively close to one another so that transportation is not a problem and the child will still be able to attend the same school. This allows the child to keep contact with their friends, which can be a benefit because the fewer changes the child has to go through the better they may take the change of living life differently with separated parents. If the child lives primarily with one parent, and the other has visitation rights, the live-in parent is said to have sole physical custody.

Sole custody is awarded to a parent when the other parent is deemed unfit to care for the child, usually for reasons such as alcohol or dug addiction, abusive personalities, and other red flags. There will usually need to be a good amount of evidence to prove this, so talking to a lawyer is usually very necessary.

Legal custody is another term to familiarize yourself with. Legal custody is essentiall the rights and resposibilties that come along with making the key decisions for the child’s wellbeing and upbringing. If a parent has legal custody, then they are the ones to make all decisions regarding school, what type of religion the child will be taught, medical care, etc. When the courts award joint legal custody it means that both parents have to share the responsibility equally, and work together to raise the child.

There are some things to be aware of when it comes to joint custody. In most states, if there is any exclusion of one parent or the other in these decisions, one parent can take the other to court for being excluded, since it goes against the court’s rulings. Once taken to court the judge can rule to enforce the custody agreement in whatever way they choose. This usually does not mean jail or a fine, but it will be an added strain to the agreement, and extra expense, and possibly more trauma for the parents and the child.

It is also possible if one parent does not think the joint legal custody will be a good arrangement due to lack of cooperation, they can then go to court to request sole legal custody, but that will also require a lot of hard evidence that proves the other parent unfit for joint custody, and is something you would have to talk to your lawyer about. Always remember, the courts will rule for whatever is in the best interest for the child.

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