What is legal custody (decision-making)?

Legal custody in family lawIn many states, child custody is split into two parts. There is physical custody. And there is legal custody. Many do not understand the difference.

Most are probably in terms of physical custody when the term “custody” is used. Physical custody is where the children will be on what days of the week. It’s where they will be during the summers and the holidays. Physical custody is the actual custody schedule for the children on when they will be with both parents. In some states, like Illinois, physical custody is referred to as “parenting time.”

Legal custody is more abstract to many. Legal custody is who makes the decisions for the children. In terms of educational, medical, religion and extracurricular activities, who is making the call?

When custody is joint, both parents are equal decision makers. Where custody is sole, that parent generally has the final say on these issues if the parents cannot agree.

In some states, the term legal custody is not used. Instead, these matters are referred to as “decision-making.” Illinois is a state that uses this language versus legal custody.

Either way, the issue of decision-making or legal custody is an important part of a custody case. While the parties can be focused on physical custody or parenting time, legal custody or decision-making can have long and short-term effects on the children.

It is important that a party understand the difference.  If you are going though a custody matter where legal custody or decision-making is a significant issue, you can contact Stange Law Firm, PC at 1-855-805-0595.

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