Robert Gougaloff ‘s Parent Alienation Blog

A blog about Parent Alienation

Legal vs. Physical Custody

I spent another day in family court yesterday and as I was waiting for my case to be called it became very transparent to me that many people are confused about the definition and ramifications of legal and physical custody.  So here is the Judge’s input on this (which I think makes it very clear):

Physical Custody – is the percentage distribution of time a child spends with either of the parents.  In other words, it is a predetermined measure of how much time a child will spend with one parent in comparison to the other parent.  It is often being used as a fractional multiplier to calculate child support.

Legal Custody – is different.  There is usually not a sliding percentage scale.  There is either shared legal custody, full legal custody or no legal custody.  Legal custody is all about making major decisions for a child or children.  Major decisions include (but are not exclusive):

  • Medical and dental care that is not emergency care
  • Psychological evaluation and treatment
  • Issuance of a driver’s license
  • Issuance of a passport
  • Schooling
  • Religious education
  • Name changes
  • Change of the children’s residency
  • Body piercings (including ear piercings)
  • Tattoos

Shared legal custody means that NONE of the above mentioned areas can be decided upon without the consent of the other parent.  I have seen judges overrule such decisions when made without the consent of the other parent.

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September 16, 2008 Posted by | General Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment