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What Is the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody of Children?

 Posted on April 26, 2021 in Divorce

Novi legal and physical child custody attorneyChild custody is one of the most important and consequential legal issues that families may need to address. During the divorce process, parents will need to determine how they will share custody of their children. Unmarried couples may also need to address this issue and ensure that both parents will be able to maintain a close, ongoing relationship with their children. When determining how to handle custody-related matters, it is important for parents to understand the different types of custody and how these cases are handled in Michigan’s family courts.

Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

Child custody issues generally fall into two categories. The first category, which is commonly known as “legal custody,” involves the authority to make important decisions affecting the welfare of the child. Legal custody generally involves the right to make major decisions about how children will be raised. This may include medical decisions such as which doctors children will visit and what treatments they will receive or educational decisions such as where they will go to school. Legal custody may also address decisions about children’s practice of religion or what activities they will participate in.

The second category is commonly known as “physical custody,” and it is referred to as parenting time in Michigan. This refers to the time that children will spend with each parent, including the days that they will live in each parent’s home during the school year and during holidays and school vacations, as well as any other times they will be in the care of a parent.

In many cases, parents will share joint custody of their children. Joint legal custody means that parents will both have the right to make important decisions about how children will be raised. Parents may share equal responsibilities in all child-related matters, or they may agree that one parent will be primarily responsible for different types of decisions. Joint physical custody means that children will be spending at least some time in the care of each parent. While parents will usually share joint legal and physical custody, there are some cases where courts may grant sole legal custody to one parent while requiring parents to share physical custody, or one parent may be granted sole legal and physical custody.

Contact Our Oakland County Child Custody Lawyers

During your divorce, you will want to have a strong legal advocate on your side as you address issues related to child custody. At Elkouri Heath, PLC, we will make sure you understand your rights, and we will help you negotiate a child custody agreement that will ensure that you can continue to be the parent your children need and deserve. If necessary, we are prepared to provide you with representation in the courtroom and advocate for child custody decisions that will protect your children’s best interests. Contact our Novi, MI family law attorneys by calling 248-344-9700 and set up a free consultation.



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