How legal custody differs from physical custody

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in child custody on Monday, July 31, 2017.

Parents who are dealing with custody issues in Kansas City may not be familiar with some of the legal terminology involved, especially if it is their first time in the court system. When it comes to child custody, there are generally two different types of custody that a judge may grant to either or both parents.

When a parent has physical custody of a child, it means that the child lives with, or physically resides with, that person. One parent may have sole physical custody or the parents may share physical custody. On the other hand, legal custody, as FindLaw points out, has more to do with who is able to make decisions that affect the child’s life.

Even if one parent has sole physical of the child, the court may still grant both parents joint legal custody. That means that one parent cannot make significant decisions about the child’s life without consent from the other. According to the Missouri Courts website, examples of such decisions include:

  • What doctors the child may see
  • What schools the child may attend
  • Whether the child receives a religious upbringing
  • Who may watch the child
  • What activities the child may take part in

A parent with legal custody can also make decisions about medical treatment for the child. However, in the event of an emergency, the parent who has physical custody at the time may make a decision on the spot. Day to day decisions, such as what the child should wear or eat, are generally left up to whichever parent the child is physically with that day.

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