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What are the differences between legal and physical custody?

| Jul 14, 2020 | Blog

As a father with an active role in your children’s lives, you will likely worry about your custody rights during divorce proceedings. For many years, courts favored mothers in these cases. Yet, Nebraska’s current laws favor neither parent. Rather, they prioritize their children’s best interests. This fact may provide you relief. But you may still have concerns whether you will receive your fair share of both legal and physical custody. To work toward both, it’s important you understand their differences.

Legal custody

Legal custody refers to the decision-making power you and your spouse have over your children. If you petition for sole custody during divorce proceedings, you will have full responsibility for making choices about your children’s lives. Your spouse, then, will not have any input. Conversely, if your spouse receives sole custody, you will have no input in decision-making. Yet, many divorcing couples agree upon a joint legal custody arrangement. In this case, you and your spouse would share decision-making responsibilities, so long as you can communicate and cooperate with each other. A judge will not order this arrangement if you cannot do so.

Physical custody

Physical custody refers to your children’s primary residence. Often, divorcing parents share legal custody, yet one receives sole physical custody. In this case, the other parent usually receives fair visitation rights. Yet, you may want to pursue joint physical custody instead. This arrangement would entail your children spending a specific amount of time at both you and your spouse’s homes. And it makes sense if you play a significant role in their lives.

Divorce is challenging for children, and it’s crucial that you remain an active parent after you and your spouse split. By understanding how legal and physical custody differ, you can work out an arrangement that protects your relationship with your children and allows them to thrive.