Generally speaking, when people talk about getting custody of their children in a divorce, they’re thinking about physical custody. This deals with where the child is going to live and who is going to be responsible for them at that time. If you and your ex have to split physical custody, for instance, then you need to set up a custody schedule that moves the children back-and-forth between your homes.
But there is another type of custody to consider, known as legal custody. How is this different from physical custody and why is it important?
Essentially, legal custody is all about decision-making power and the ability to make choices for the child when they can’t do so on their own. You have a legal right to take certain steps that no one else has a right to take.
For example, if your child gets sick and needs medical treatment, you get to decide what type of treatment they get. You can also choose what religion they’re raised in, where they go to school and many other things. Only someone with parental custody rights can make these decisions.
Legal custody can also be divided between parents. This can be problematic in some situations. If you and your ex don’t agree on what type of medical care is necessary, for instance, how do you make the decision? What if you can’t come to a compromise?
If you do find yourself in a complicated situation like this, be sure you know exactly what legal options you have and what steps to take. Remember that the child’s best interests should always come first.