Custody matters can get quite complex. When parties do not agree, the court must step in and make decisions. Even when parties agree, they must still follow the law and account for both types of custody.
California Courts explains there are two types of custody that you must think about when determining arrangements for your children.
The first type of custody is physical. This type is what most people will think about when talking about child custody matters. It covers who has the child physically with them. In a typical arrangement, parents share physical custody. The children live with one parent and have visitation with the other. Some couples will share physical custody and the children will basically live with both parents at different intervals. Physical custody and parenting time are tightly intertwined.
Those not familiar with child custody may not understand legal custody. It is important, though, because legal custody is the ability to make decisions for and about the child. In many cases, parents share legal custody. They both have an equal say in making important decisions about the child’s care. Decisions might include where the child goes to school and medical choices. There is a chance the court will award legal custody to only one parent. In that situation, the other parent loses the right to make or approve of decisions about their child.
When making custody arrangements, you must think about both types of custody. Make sure that you know exactly who has legal custody as it often leads to issues down the road because it is not as obvious as physical custody rights.