Attorney Todd Dwire speaking with staff member in conference room

We See The Big Picture In Family Law

Do you know the difference between legal and physical custody?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2020 | Child Custody |

For most couples in Minnesota who share children and want to get a divorce, the ultimate custody outcome will likely involve shared parenting authority and responsibility. The better that you understand how the family courts in Minnesota approach custody proceedings, the easier it will be to advocate for the best outcome for you and your children.

One of the most important things you need to understand is that there are two kinds of custody, and both of them are important to you as a parent and to your children. Ideally, you will request your fair share of both physical and legal custody during your Minnesota divorce proceedings.

Physical custody involves the physical care and needs of the kids

For most people who talk about custody, what they think of is physical custody specifically. They worry about how much parenting time they will have and when they will be responsible for picking their kids up from school if they get sick in the middle of the day.

Physical custody involves whom the children stay with and who has the responsibility to provide the basic needs of life to them at any given time. The responsibilities of physical custody can include taking children to school, feeding them and also just spending time with them and ensuring there is adequate adult oversight. Securing your fair share of physical custody will help ensure that you get to spend adequate time with your kids.

Legal custody involves the authority to make decisions for your kids

Parents often don’t fight as intensely over legal custody as they do over physical custody unless there are significant religious or cultural differences between parents. Legal custody involves the allocation of basic decision-making authority to one or both parents.

Failing to recognize the importance of legal custody could mean that you don’t protect your rights now and then later don’t have a say when it’s time to make an important decision, such as what high school they attend or whether or not they get certain vaccines. Legal custody can influence medical, religious and educational decisions made on behalf of minor children.

For involved parents, having a fair share of both legal and physical custody is usually the ideal outcome in a Minnesota divorce.


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