In popular culture and media, the term "custody" gets thrown around a lot. But what does it mean? There are two types of custody: physical and legal. The two are related, but have meanings that are quite different.
Physical custody: Determination of where child will live as well as who has responsibility for day-to-day care. Courts can grant sole physical custody with right of visitation to the non-custodial parent, or grant joint physical custody where both parents share custody through a parenting plan or similar device.
Legal custody: Determination of who makes long-term and far-reaching decisions as to the child's welfare, health, education and religion. This does NOT include day-to-day care, such as meals and entertainment. Courts may grant joint legal custody or sole legal custody. Separately, if a judge grants joint custody to parents who have trouble agreeing s/he may also grant final decision-making authority to one of the parents.
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