What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

Legal and physical custody are the different legal rights that a parent has over a child. However, one should not get too attached to the meaning of being granted legal or physical custody because in the end both parents have a right to be involved in the child’s life assuming a parent is not dangerous to the child’s welfare. 

Physical custody traditionally means the home base of the child. Joint physical custody means that the child spends about 50% of his or her time at each parent’s home. If physical custody is granted to one parent, usually the other parent is given liberal visitation. 

Legal Custody means that the right to decision making regarding the child. If the parents cannot get along usually only one parent is granted legal custody of the child. However the other parent who was not granted custody is entitled to be fully informed about what is happening in the child’s life. 

What does this mean for child support? Not much because child support is calculated based on both parents’ incomes. The parent with physical custody still must contribute to the child support. The parent living outside the home of the child happens to pay it because they are not there to buy the child’s groceries like the custodial parent is. The bottom line is that parents should not be too concerned about labels with regard to physical custody. 

If you are seeking clarity and or guidance with the concepts of physical and legal custody and would like to retain counsel in your child support or custody matter, contact Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law. 

Published by Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C.

Divorce & Family Law Attorney Licensed in Michigan & New York

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