Do you know the difference between legal and physical custody?
Ensuring your rights as a father isn't always an easy thing to do. Fathers have uniquely complicated legal rights to their children, in part because they do not give birth. Men who do not marry the mothers of their children will have to go through paternity proceedings or work with the mother to confirm paternity of the child.
Married fathers who get divorced from the mother of their children will often find themselves worried about how much custody time they will have. They also want to protect their children from the emotional damage of divorce.
Working for the best possible outcome in a fathers' rights custody case requires an understanding of your rights. Custody is a complex legal issue that deals with more than just whom the child stays with on any given day. Understanding what, exactly, custody entails can help you push for a better and fairer outcome to your custody proceedings.
Physical custody refers to where the child stays
When most people talk about the custody of children, they are referring to physical custody. Physical custody is the legal term describing whom the child physically stays with at any given time. It is common for parents to share physical custody, although the amount of time allocated to each parent may vary significantly from family to family.
Issues ranging from instability to your work schedule can impact how much parenting time or physical custody you receive. For many fathers, ensuring shared physical custody is a critical issue in a divorce. They want to know that they will have the right to spend time with their children and be a part of their lives.
Thankfully, the courts understand that the role of a father in the lives of his children is an important one, and they will generally work with both parents to arrange shared physical custody.
Legal custody refers to decision-making authority
While many parents focus on physical custody, legal custody is also an important issue. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make important decisions on behalf of their child. Legal custody can impact decisions about medical treatment, religion and even education.
If you have strong religious beliefs, form opinions about education or other important considerations, shared legal custody may also be important to you. You may want your child to grow up with your traditional religion or to attend the same high school that you did. Shared legal custody typically means you and your spouse will need to reach agreements about important terms for your child's life.
It is possible for the courts to award joint physical custody to both parents while allocating legal custody to only one. Only you understand which scenario is best for your family. Having a better understanding of the two forms of custody can help.