What Is the Difference Between Joint Legal Custody and Joint Physical Custody?

Legal custody means that a parent receives or retains all legal rights for the raising and nurturing of the children. A legal custodian can do anything for a child that the law permits or requires.

Joint physical custody deals with the reality that children can only be in one place at one time, so if the parents no longer live together, joint custody designates what dates and times that children will be with which parent.

Joint legal custody is almost always granted , except in the most extreme cases, or when one party is unavailable to help raise the children in a meaningful way. An example might be if one parent is in prison. From prison it would be next to impossible to help raise the children, so the court might order sole legal custody to the parent not in prison.

The preference of the court at this time seems to be joint legal and joint physical custody, whenever that is reasonably possible and best for the children. Upon pertinent facts and information, however, if the court finds that not to be in the best interest of the children, it will enter other orders.