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How do legal and physical child custody work?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Many Texas parents manage to remain amicable through the proceedings of a divorce. This allows them to reach mutual agreements about child custody. Parents who consider the best interests of their children often decide on joint custody, which involves both legal and physical custody. Such an agreement will be included in the divorce decree, and neither parent may make legal decisions without the consent of the other parent.

When parents have joint legal custody, the decisions that are typically made include those related to childcare and/or the child's education, along with which religion the child will follow – if any. Other issues that will require both parents to agree are related to the child's medical care, psychological or psychiatric needs and counseling and therapy. Both parents will also decide on extracurricular activities, summer camps, sports, vacations, traveling and living details.

In cases in which one parent has sole legal custody, that parent will make all these decisions. However, it is possible for one parent to have sole legal custody but shared physical custody with the other parent. If disagreements arise that cannot be settled, the court may have to become involved. Also, if a parent who has joint legal custody makes decisions without the consent of the other parent, the excluded parent can turn to the court for help.

Texas parents who are considering divorce may benefit greatly from consulting with an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer can explain the legalities of the different types of child custody and the applicable laws of the state. Couples who struggle to come to an agreement may choose to consult with a family law mediator, and they will be allowed to have their respective attorneys present to provide valuable input and ensure that the final agreement meets legal standards.

Source: divorcedmoms.com, "The Difference Between Sole and Joint Legal Custody", Jessica James, Accessed on June 15, 2016

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