It’s About You And
Your Future

Legal Custody v. Physical Custody

Legal custody is the ability to make important decisions for a child, such as school enrollment, choice of medical providers, religious affiliation, and many other decisions which may have long-term impacts on a child. Physical custody refers to the physical custody arrangements—essentially where, when, and how a parent cares for and spends time with a child, whether the child lives with them or they have supervised visits at a center— and the daily parenting decisions, such as what a child should eat or wear.

Most often, legal custody is shared by parents, even if physical custody is not. Sometimes, it may be appropriate for one parent to have sole legal custody of a child if the other parent is absent, unable to make parenting decisions, or impaired (such as by drug or alcohol dependency).

Physical custody may be shared equally, one parent may have more (or significantly more) time than the other parent, or one parent may have sole physical custody of a child. Typically, the Court favors both parents having at least some custodial time with the child, even if that time needs to be limited or supervised; however, some parents with serious criminal convictions (such as rape), ongoing drug or alcohol dependency issues, or other concerns that could prove detrimental to the child may not be successful in attempting to obtain physical custody of the child.

If you are interested in discussing your unique custody matter with one of our attorneys, call Tanner Law Offices at 717-731-8114 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.