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What is physical and legal child custody?

You and your spouse are getting a divorce. You want the best for your child even after divorce, so you’re considering talking to your spouse about a child custody agreement. A child custody agreement could help split the responsibility of raising your child long after the divorce.

Child custody orders establish how a parent will care and raise for their children when working with the children’s other parent. You and your spouse could come to an agreement as to how the order will work, otherwise, a court may decide in the best interest of the child. There are several types of custody orders that may be discussed.

Here’s what you should know:

Physical child custody living arrangements

Physical custody of a child means having a child physically, visibility present in a parent’s life. A child who lives in their parent’s home, is seen regularly and has their needs met is likely under sole physical custody of one of their parents. Typically, the other parent has some kind of visitation right.

Alternatively, a child may be shared by both parents in joint physical custody. This may mean the child will alternate between the separate homes of their parents. The child may see one parent during the weekend and see the other parent during the weekday. This arrangement is typically done with respect to the parents’ lives and work schedules and the child’s schooling and extracurriculars.

Legal child custody upbringing agreement

A parent with legal custody decides how their child will be raised. Legal custody may include the decision over dietary restrictions, medical, dental and mental care, schooling and religious instructions.

A parent who has sole legal custody of their child may decide the entirety of their child’s upbringing. Parents who are in a joint legal custody agreement will often develop a plan and find a balance between how they want their children raised.

There’s more to a child custody agreement than who has your child and how they’re raised. You may need to know all your options about child custody when sitting down with your spouse.