Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, including education, health care and religious training. On the other hand, physical custody refers to where a child physically resides.
Both legal and physical custody are crucial aspects of a child custody arrangement, and they are often intertwined. When you share legal custody with your co-parent, you have an equal say in decisions that affect your child’s life. It means that your co-parent must seek your consent when making such decisions.
How is legal custody determined?
As mentioned, legal and physical custody go hand in hand. The criteria used by the court to award physical custody apply to legal custody as well. Usually, the child’s best interests will determine whether legal custody will be shared between the parents.
Some factors that may affect the court’s decision include each parent’s involvement in the child’s life, their knowledge of the child’s needs and their ability to discharge parental responsibilities, among others.
Legal custody is enforceable
Unless in an emergency, you should be involved in making decisions about your child under joint legal custody. This applies even if your co-parent lives with the children. Should they fail to consult you or act without your knowledge, it is a violation of the custody orders, and you can seek legal relief. In such instances, the court may employ various enforcement measures, such as holding your co-parent in contempt or modifying existing custody orders accordingly.
Understand your parental rights
Physical custody of the children often takes center stage in a divorce, and as a result, not everyone is as conversant with legal custody. Learning more about how things work under various custody arrangements will help you look out for the children’s well-being and safeguard your parental rights.