Atlanta, GA family law attorney Regina I. Edwards explains the difference between legal and physical custody.
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A question that I get a lot is what is the difference between legal custody and physical custody and that’s a very good question. Physical custody just refers to the amount of time that is spent with one party versus the other. So if a party has primary physical custody then that usually means that the child or children spend more than 50 percent of the time with that parent.
Joint legal custody is more a term of art. That means if there is joint legal custody then both parties’ have a right to weigh in on the decisions of their child. It means that both parties’ can weigh in on the decisions of their child, they can look at medical records, that sort of thing. So most party’s in most divorce cases will actually have joint legal custody it really is an anomaly for someone to have sole legal custody.
So joint legal custody is the standard unless there’s an exceptional circumstance but in terms of physical custody that usually is one party has primary custody and the other person has secondary. There is such a thing as joint physical custody in some unique situations that it can work but it usually requires the party’s getting along.