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Understanding physical custody versus legal custody

Although parents who separate usually have their disagreements, one common area of concern is usually the well-being of their children. In some cases, parents are unable to agree on child custody, so court intervention may be necessary. In North Carolina, child custody laws determine how parenting time is divided and whether one parent should get primary custody of the children. Typically, child custody consists of legal custody and physical custody. 

Physical custody 

Physical custody refers to which parent the children physically reside with. Parents can evenly share physical custody or the children may reside with one parent the majority of the time. Although physical custody can be awarded solely to one parent, it is a rare occurrence. However, a parent can be granted sole physical custody if the court determines the other parent is unfit. 

Legal custody 

When determining child custody, North Carolina courts must decide which parent should be granted legal custody. When a parent has legal custody it means that the parent has the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. These usually concern health care, religious upbringing, education and participation in extracurricular activities. Joint legal custody is awarded most of the time, but there are certainly times when that arrangement may not be in the best interests of the kids. 

Help with child custody matters 

Whatever the courts decide regarding physical and legal child custody of a child, keep in mind that custody orders are not permanent and can be modified. Undoubtedly, child custody can be one of the most difficult and stressful issues when parents separate. Parents in North Carolina who have questions about child custody or child support laws can speak with an experienced legal professional. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help determine the best arrangements and focus on achieving a result that meets the client’s needs and supports the best interests of any kids involved. 

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