What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?

In Virginia, there are two types of custody that the court will deal with in a custody case: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions about the child. A court will often award joint legal custody which means that the parents are supposed to cooperate in co-parenting the child. When the parents have joint legal custody, they are supposed to discuss major decisions like elective medical treatment, private school versus public school, extracellular activities and religious affiliation. When ever possible, the parents should try to come to an agreement on these decisions.

Physical custody is who the child lives with for the majority of the time. This parent is normally referred to as the custodial parent. The custodial parent makes the day to day decision regarding the child but has the responsibility to keep the non-custodial parent up to date on what is going on with the child. Both parents have a right to the school records and to attend parent teacher conferences.

It is best for the child if the parents can work together on issues regarding the child. If you need assistance in setting up a parenting plan for your child or children, contact Hampton Roads Legal Services at 757-320-2010.

Edrie Pfeiffer
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Edrie Pfeiffer, Bankruptcy & Divorce Attorney