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Legal custody vs. physical custody

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2017 | Parenting Plans And Parenting Time

Raising children when you are divorced can be very complicated. Trying to manage custody issues with the other parent often makes things challenging and complex, especially when you cannot agree on a parenting plan. Part of reaching an agreement that benefits your children is understanding two important aspects of custody: physical and legal.

Since dealing with custody issues can be problematic, it is important that you understand your options. If you are negotiating a custody agreement or modifying an existing order, you should take the time to speak with an experienced lawyer. A family law attorney in the Omaha area can help you solve any custody issues you are facing.

Physical custody

In general, the court will decide which one of you should take care of the children on a daily basis. This is the person that gets physical custody. If the court awards you with physical custody, it is more than likely that your children will live in your home. Since you have physical custody, the court will allow your ex-visitation rights.

With this arrangement, you and your ex will have to work together to devise a visitation schedule that is beneficial to your children. This might mean that they spend every other weekend with her, taking turns with holidays, and figuring out summer vacation plans.

Legal custody

While the court usually grants one parent physical custody, both parents typically get legal custody. This means that both of you have the right to make certain decisions on behalf of your children. You each will have a say in your children’s education, medical treatment and religious practices. If you make decisions on these subjects without consulting your ex, she could file a complaint with the court, and it may charge you with contempt.

Sole custody

Usually, the court will only deny legal custody if a parent is unfit or does not have the ability make important decisions on the child’s behalf. Other reasons a parent might not get custody rights include drug abuse, physical abuse and other criminal acts. If the court grants you sole custody, your ex may still receive visitation rights. However, you will be responsible for the day-to-day care of your children and for making major decisions for their well-being.

If you are facing a custody battle or need to make changes to a current order, you should be prepared for difficult court proceedings. Due to the complexity of custody cases, an experienced attorney’s advice can be very helpful.