Physical custody vs legal custody of children

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What is the difference between legal and physical custody of a child?  You really need to know this if you are filing for a paternity case or are in the process of a divorce, or have an ongoing restraining order against the other parent of your child.

Legal custody is who can make the decisions for the child.  Examples of this woukd be school, medical, and religious decisions. It is also who can get access to these types of records for the child and speak to the providers of these services. If you have joint legal custody then both parties / parents have to agree on the issues and both have a right to consult and make decisions that effect their child.  You also have to agree if one parent plans to go on vacation out of state or out of the country or if the plan to move out of state or out of the country.  Both parents would also have to sign any passport applications for the child. If you have sole legal them you are the only person who can make decisions for the child. If yopu want to move out of the state or country you do not need the permission of the other parent.   The same goes if you go to get a passport for your child.

Physical custody is who the child primarily lives with 90 % of the time and usually the other party will have a visitation schedule. In some cases parents may have joint physical custody if they rotate time with the child 50/50.


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