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What Does Legal Custody & Physical Custody Mean?

Have you thought about the rights that parents have regarding their children when divorce occurs?  The subject of child custody and parental rights is not often clear or understood.

Legal Custody

The word legal custody defines the authority to make the choices of behalf of a child that is a minor or has not yet reached an age where they can take such decisions.  The matters where legal custody can be exercised include a number of different aspects such as:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Safety
  • Decision on religion
  • Welfare of the child, etc.

In most cases, the courts order joint legal custody, because both parents are seen to have the right to mutually make decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of their children.

Physical Custody

Whereas legal custody has to do with decision-making authority, physical custody actually involves the use of parenting time and being able to care for the children physically. In other words, which parent has the children when determines what the physical custody is.  Although there is no hard and fast rule, most judges label physical custody as “sole physical custody” where one parent has less than a 30% timeshare and “joint physical custody” if the other parent has at least 30% custodial timeshare.

divorce_attorneyGerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.

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