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Legal and physical custody vary: Know the difference

Physical and legal custody are two different kinds of custody that could be appointed in court. Physical custody is when a parent has a child in his or her care and lives with that child. Legal custody, on the other hand, is when a parent has the right to make major decisions for the child.

A parent with legal custody also has the right to make decisions that could affect the child in other ways. For instance, a non-custodial parent who sees his or her child's math grades slipping could make the decision to get his or her child tutoring lessons. Since the parent has legal custody, it is his or her right to do so.

It's not uncommon for both parents to have joint legal custody. This means that both parents have the legal right to make decisions that could affect their child. There are cases when a parent may have sole legal custody, like if one parent has passed away, had his or her parenting rights taken away or if it has been shown that the parent is incapable of making decisions for the child's welfare.

If the court has determined that you should have joint legal custody in your case, then you need to make an effort to work with the other parent to make decisions to benefit your child. If you decide to leave the other parent out of the decision-making process, then you could be found in contempt of court and face all penalties to do with that accusation. If that happens to you or if you find it difficult to come to agreements, there may be legal options available to help you through a difficult time. Our site has more on custody arrangements and what you can do to work through yours.

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