Child custody is often the most hotly contested issue in a divorce. Parents who don’t understand how the Pennsylvania family courts handle custody determinations may be at a disadvantage when trying to assert their parental rights.
Some of the most common mistakes people make when seeking shared custody include not pushing for true parity in the amount of parenting time because they assume one parent must have primary custody or failing to ask for both a share of legal and physical custody.
If you don’t understand these two types of custody, you might not appreciate how important legal custody is as a part of your parental rights.
Physical custody is what most people focus on
As the name implies, physical custody relates to who is responsible for providing for the basic physical needs of the children at any given time. A parent with physical custody should pick the kids up from school, take them to the doctor as necessary and provide them with food and shelter.
Sharing physical custody is a common and desirable outcome, especially because the courts try to focus on what’s best for the children. However, to truly play a role in the lives of your children, you should also seek a portion of the legal custody for them.
Securing legal custody gives you the right to have a say
Making decisions on behalf of your children can be one of the most important aspects of parenting, and that is what legal custody involves. For example, legal custody can give you the authority to make decisions about what kind of medical care your children receive, which can be very important, depending on your religion.
Legal custody can also impact what religion your children practice and holidays they observe and even extends to educational decisions, such as whether your child will attend private or public school. Demanding a fair share of legal custody is an important step toward establishing yourself as an equal co-parent after a divorce.