What is the Difference Between Physical And Legal Custody?

Divorce can often become a stressful time in people’s lives. It changes an entire family. When a couple goes through a divorce, they have to prepare to separate their lives with new arrangements for their futures. In the couple has children, they must determine custody. Custody arrangements establish which parent a child spends most of their time with and the amount of influence the parent can have in their child’s life. If a couple cannot come to an agreement on their own, the court will make a decision that is in the best interest of the child. Different custody arrangements are attainable during a divorce.

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines which parent the child spends the majority of their time with. This also means the child will live with this parent. This is why it is sometimes referred to as residential custody. The parent with physical custody is the custodial parent because they are the child’s main guardian. Even though the child lives with the main guardian, they will also spend time in the non-custodial parent’s home.

Legal Custody

It is important that parents understand what legal custody is when they arranging custody. Legal custody covers a different part of a child’s life than physical custody. Parents should still fight for legal custody even if they do not have physical custody.

When a parent is awarded legal custody, they are able to be involved in making important decisions throughout the child’s life. This gives them influence in matters such as health care, academics, religious practices, and more. This allows both parents to be involved in their child’s life and have a relationship with them. It can also help if a custodial parent wants to move with their child. Legal custody allows the non-custodial parent the right to speak up in these situations.

How is Custody Determined?

If parents need to go to court to determine custody, a judge will make the final decision regarding a custody arrangement. Several factors are considered about the parents and their child before the judge comes to a decision. This may include:

  • If the parent will act in the child’s best interest
  • If the parent can provide a stable home
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Any history of 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, contact the Law Offices of George J. Mardinly today.

Our firm proudly represents clients in New Jersey who are faced with matters of family law, criminal defense, business law, real estate law, or estate planning. If you require strong and dedicated representation for any of your legal matters, contact The Law Offices of George J. Mardinly to schedule a consultation.