What is the Difference Between Physical and Legal Custody?

Posted on Feb 9, 2010 by Hofheimer Family Law

During Virginia divorce proceedings, one of the most contentious aspects can be the issue of physical and legal custody of the children. According to the Virginia Legislative Code, there are important differences between legal and physical custody of which you should be aware.

When a parent is granted legal child custody in Virginia, they have the right to make long-term decisions about the child. This parent can decide where the child will go to school, how they will be disciplined and other major life decisions. If a parent is granted sole legal custody, he or she can make these decisions without consulting the other parent. If parents share legal custody, these decisions must be made together.

Child physical custody determines where the child will live. If a child lives exclusively with one parent, that parent has sole physical custody-or primary physical custody-of the child. If the parents have a joint physical custody agreement, the child will spend time living with both parents, even if only one of the parents has legal custody over the child.

To learn more about Virginia physical custody, read What is Virginia Physical Custody?

The Virginia divorce attorneys at Hofheimer Family Law Firm represent Virginia women who wish to file for divorce. We are committed to fighting for your rights, assisting in child custody disputes, and ensuring that you receive everything you are entitled to and need in order to start your new life. Contact us to step up a legal consultation of your case – (757) 425-5200.