Providing Personal Attention To Clients in Delaware and Pennsylvania

The difference between legal and physical custody

On Behalf of | May 21, 2021 | blog

Divorce is difficult, particularly when there are children involved. Parental cooperation and calendar coordination become more important than ever and perhaps more stressful for everyone.

Once a custody arrangement is in place, following it until the children are grown would be straightforward if nothing changes in the adults’ lives. However, that’s rarely the case, and it is important to understand what your rights are when these changes occur.

Legal custody

Besides the right to remain informed, legal custody gives you the right to participate in your child’s life and weigh in on major decisions, such as those related to education and health. These decisions are best made jointly, but if you and your former spouse can’t agree, the court can get involved.

Physical custody

The parent who lives at the address where your children spend most of their time has physical custody, also referred to as primary or residential placement. You may still have joint custody, but the time they spend with you might be weekends or school vacations, for example. The visitation and holiday schedule are part of your custody agreement.

Co-parenting and cooperation

Regardless of how you and your ex feel about each other, the way you interact affects your children.  There will be many times throughout your children’s lives when you and your former spouse will have contact. There will be sports and other events in addition to the visitation handoffs. It’s important to make these interactions as easy on the children as possible.

Life changes. Opportunities arise for one parent or the other, including another marriage or a new job. An agreement made when your children were young may later need modification. A family lawyer can help you sort it out and answer questions about parental rights in specific circumstances.