Physical custody and Legal custody – what is the difference?
When you appear before the judge, you need to know your rights as a parent.
Physical custody is different from legal custody. The main difference is that physical custody is about physical possession while legal custody is about a parent’s rights and duties.
Also, physical custody deals with whom the child lives with. This usually falls into a parent’s period of possession. In Texas, the most common possession order is called Standard Possession Order (SPO). In this type of Order, the parent who does not decide where the child lives may visit the child on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Friday of the month. During this time, the parent has physical custody of the child.
On the other hand, legal custody is about responsibilities. Generally, the Texas Family Code addresses certain decisions that parents have to make. Some examples are health decision (invasive and non-invasive). Also, one or both parents decide the religious training, marriage, and education of the child.
The court may grant one parent sole (legal) custody. Therefore, only the sole managing conservator (parent with sole custody) makes the decision. The other parent may have independent rights or no rights to these decisions. The court considers the best interest of the child. That is the standard.
Although a court may divide the physical and/or legal conservatorship unequally, it is important to talk to an attorney about the facts of your case. In family law, one size does not always fit all. Contact us for your consultation. We’d like to help you.