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What do legal and physical custody mean for you?

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Divorce

A divorce will impact every member of your Pennsylvania family, and kids may experience difficulty as they adjust to the changes in their everyday lives. As a parent, you want to protect your kids from as much unnecessary upheaval and duress as possible, which is why many families opt for a co-parenting or joint custody plan. These arrangements typically provide the kids the ability to maintain strong relationships with both of their parents long-term.

Even in custody and visitation plans in which parents plan to share time with their kids, it will be necessary to address both legal and physical custody. These two types of custody will be important factors in your custody plan, even if you intend to split time equally between your homes. It is important to understand the differences and distinctions between these two types of custody.

Legal custody

Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make important decisions for his or her child. You want to have a say in matters that will affect the direction of your child’s life, including where he or she goes to school, the religious training he or she receives, medical care decisions and much more. Parents may share legal custody and work together to make these types of decisions, or one parent may retain sole legal custody.

Physical custody

Physical custody includes any time that a parent has with his or her child. This includes weekend visitation, vacation, where the child spends holidays and how the child will split time between homes. Shared physical custody does not always mean an exact 50-50 split, but it typically means the parents have relatively equitable time with the child. Shared physical custody arrangements should include details regarding pick-up and drop-off procedures between homes.

The ideal custody arrangement

The ideal custody arrangement for your family depends on the details of your individual situation and your unique family needs. There is no cookie-cutter custody plan, and each family would be wise to craft an arrangement that protects the best interests of the child above all else. As you are negotiating terms, discussing options and listening to your kids, you would be wise to choose a plan that will be most sustainable and beneficial long-term.

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