Legal custody, also known as “domestic child custody,” refers to decisions made by a court that affect a child’s living arrangements after the parents’ separation or divorce. There are different types of legal custody.
Spousal custody refers to decisions made by a court regarding the child’s living arrangements with a parent who is not the child’s biological parent. In spousal custody, the court decides who is best able to provide the child with a stable and nurturing environment.
The court determines which of the parents can have legal custody of the child. The court usually makes those decisions based on a number of factors, including the child’s best interest and the parents’ respective capacities and abilities to care for the child.
Types of legal custody
Legal custody is the most common form of custody because it is in the best interest of children to have regular, loving, consistent contact with both of their biological parents and the courts are generally most concerned with the welfare of the children when it comes to the parents’ relationships.
Legal custody is not the same as physical custody, which is the time spent with each parent. Legal custody only refers to the determination of who is legally responsible for the child’s care, development and upbringing. Legal Houston custody attorney attorneys for child custody is usually given to one parent. A court awards legal custody to a parent when the court believes that it is not in the child’s best interest to give physical custody to the other parent. However, in some states, a court may assign a non-custodial parent legal custody in lieu of awarding physical custody of the child.
Legal custody does not always mean that the non-custodial parent has actual care and control of the child. As a result, legal custody may be awarded to a parent with whom the child’s parents are in an ongoing relationship. For example, one parent with whom the child is often physically present may be awarded legal custody.
Legal custody may also be given to one parent, who may then have joint legal custody with a second parent. Joint legal custody requires both parents to share the responsibility of making important decisions regarding the child.
Legal custody does not mean that the parent with legal custody makes all decisions regarding the child. In fact, it is rare for a parent with legal custody to make all decisions, as one parent is usually in a much better position to make the best decisions for their child.