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What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2022 | Family Law |

If you are getting a divorce or separating from your child’s other parent, you will have to come up with a custody arrangement that serves the best interests of your child. Georgia family law courts will consider several factors when making custody determinations including:

  • Age, health, and needs of the child
  • Living environment of each parent
  • Mental and physical health of each parent
  • Income and work schedule of each parent
  • Bond between each parent and child
  • Existence of domestic violence and/or drug/alcohol abuse

Physical custody vs. legal custody

When determining custody arrangements, there are two types of custody that need to be considered: physical and legal. Sole and joint custody are possible options for both types.

  • Physical custody: Refers to which parent the child will live with.
  • Legal custody: Refers to decision-making regarding the child’s upbringing (e.g., religious views, medical care, education, extracurricular activities).

Joint custody typically preferred

Courts generally prefer that both parents remain actively involved in the child’s life, assuming they are both competent and able to care for the child. Therefore, joint physical and legal custody is often the best option. Joint physical custody requires parents share parenting time but does not necessarily require that they share the time equally. Joint legal custody gives parents shared decision making authority when it comes to the child.

Family law courts will always endeavor to act in the best interest of the child, but making sure the child is healthy, safe, and happy should be the number one priority of all parties involved. A family law attorney can help ensure your child’s well-being throughout all divorce and custody proceedings.