What is the Difference Between Physical And Legal Custody?

When a couple goes through a divorce, there are many legal matters for them to consider. In the event that they have children, the parents are required to determine custody arrangements for these children. A divorce has the power to impact an entire family. It is important to the court for parents to come to a custody agreement that is in the best interest of their children. When parents cannot come to an agreement, they may need the help of the court to do so for them. Custody arrangements determine which parent a child spend most of their time with and who is responsible for making the decisions that impact their life. There are different types of custody arrangements to be considered by families when two parents are going through a divorce.

Physical Custody

When a parent is given physical custody of their child, it means they are their main guardian. Also known as residential custody, this arrangement determines where the child lives. The child will reside with this parent on a regular basis. This also means that the parent with physical custody is the individual with whom the child spends the majority of their time. It is important to know that while the child will reside with this parent, they will also spend time in their other parent’s home as well.

Legal Custody

It is very important for parents to understand the concept of legal custody. While physical custody refers to where a child spends the majority of their time, legal custody covers a different aspect of the child’s life. Even if a parent is not awarded physical custody, it is important for them to fight for legal custody of their child.  

When a parent is awarded legal custody, it gives them the right to make decisions for their child. It allows them to have a degree of influence over the important matters in their child’s life. This includes having a say in matters regarding health care, academics, religious practices, and more. Maintaining this right can be very important in the event that a custodial parent wishes to relocate with their child. Having legal custody of the child allows the non-custodial parent to still have a say in the possible relocation of their child.

How is Custody Determined?

When a divorcing couple goes to court in order to determine their custody arrangement, the judge will consider several factors regarding the family’s circumstances that contribute to their decision. These factors may include but are not limited to:

  • If a parent can provide a stable home
  • If the parent will act in the child’s best interest
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Any history of domestic abuse
  • The needs and safety of the child
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age

Contact our Firm

If you or a family member is going through a divorce and seeking legal representation for child custody, call the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. today.

If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.