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A brief look at legal custody

104081046_S.jpgFamily law matters can be complex. As we've discussed previously on this blog, child custody disputes can be highly confrontational when parent can't agree on what type of custody and visitation arrangement is best for their kid. In most cases, the focus of these disputes is on physical custody, which means where the child will live. However, physical custody is half of the child custody puzzle that must be addressed with care.

The other piece of the puzzle is legal custody. Legal custody is about having the right to make important life decisions on your child's behalf. So, a parent with legal custody is able to decide where a child will go to school, the medical care he or she will receive and even which religion the child will adhere to, if any. Of course, these decisions have a profound impact on the shape of a child's life, but they can also be meaningful to parents because they can reflect cultural and religious customs.

In most cases, legal custody is jointly held, which means that both parents have the ability to make these decisions on behalf of their child. What this means in practice is that parents must come to some sort of agreement on these important decisions. Sole legal custody can be sought in some circumstances, but it must be shown that such an arrangement is in the child's best interest. Therefore, if some sort of abuse or neglect pertains to one parent, then it may be a competent argument to say that the abusive or neglectful parent is unfit to make these important decisions.

Dealing with custody matters can be extremely challenging. After all, there is a lot at stake and the parties involved often have vastly different ideas about what is best for their child. Those who find themselves amidst a child custody dispute shouldn't leave anything to chance. Instead, they should make sure they are doing everything possible to present strong legal arguments to support their position. Experienced family law attorneys stand ready to help with this process and fight to protect your child's best interests.

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