Child Custody Terms Defined

Child custody may be an extremely contentious factor in a divorce—and occasionally, the language which we use to define and discuss child custody arrangements also can be the topic of debate.

Physical and Legal Custody

The basic words are not overly controversial. ‘Legal custody’ can be defined as the right to make decisions concerning your youngster—things such as education (home-schooling, private, or public), medical/dental care (braces), and religious upbringing. The term ‘Physical custody’ will refer to the youngster’s physical presence in the home.

If you need help gaining custody of a child, contact us today at our Chicago joint custody lawyer’s office at (312) 884-1222 or fill out our easy contact form for a free consultation.

Sole and Joint Custody

The terms ‘joint’ and ‘sole’ may slightly be more complex. It is common for parents to share joint custody in order for them both to possess the legal right to have a say within decisions regarding the youngster. Unless the parents cannot get along whatsoever and each decision might be a battle, judges likely will award joint legal custody. However, as it looks as if joint legal custody might trigger conflict, a judge will award one spouse sole legal custody, or will occasionally designate one spouse as having a ‘tie-breaker’ vote if there is a disagreement.

The truth that two parents are not good at making decisions with one another does not mean that they do not both wish to play a substantial part in a youngster’s life. For the parent who is highly involved with a youngster, a ruling that the additional spouse receives sole legal custody may feel similar to a slap in the face. On the other hand, a spouse who does a good amount of the daily caretaking might feel as if a designation of joint legal custody won’t acknowledge that part.

While the words do possess legal significance, because a spouse who has sole legal custody might overrule the additional spouse’s wishes, the terms become irrelevant if your spouse and you work collectively to make the ideal decisions for your children.

As it will come to physical custody, some of the exact same problems may arise. Even if the youngster does not spend equal time with both parents, parents may share joint physical custody—joint physical custody merely means that the youngster spends substantial time with each parent. Oftentimes, a parent who spends less than 50% of the time with a youngster still will consider it critical that the legal designation be for joint custody.

However, if the youngster primarily lives with one parent, a court often will award that spouse sole physical custody, typically with ‘reasonable visitation’ to the additional spouse. A spouse with whom the youngster resides a majority of the time often is referred to as the ‘residential parent’ or ‘custodial parent.’

If you need help gaining custody of a child, contact us today at our Chicago joint custody lawyer’s office at (312) 884-1222 or fill out our easy contact form for a free consultation.

 

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