Legal Custody

If you are in a custody dispute, you may hear many terms such as legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, joint custody, primary custody, and secondary custody used and it can be quite confusing to understand what they all mean.

Legal custody generally refers to major decision making authority for the child.  This does not include the day to day decisions while the child may be in your care, but generally refers to major decisions concerning the health, welfare, educational, and spiritual needs of the child.

Generally speaking, most parents who have an amicable relationship can agree on joint legal custody and may defer to recommendations of healthcare providers or a third party neutral when they cannot agree.  When a party knows at the time that custody is being negotiated, that there are distinct differences in each of the parent’s position on a major decision for the child, it may be important for one party to seek primary legal custody.