WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEGAL AND PHYSICAL CUSTODY.

  1. Legal Custody:
    • Definition: Legal custody refers to the responsibility of making decisions about important aspects of a child’s life.
    • Decisions Covered: These decisions may include matters related to medical care, schooling, religious instruction, psychological counseling.
    • Typical Arrangement: While married, parents usually make these decisions together. The court often grants joint legal custody to both parents, allowing them to collaborate on these choices.
    • Exceptions: In cases where there is history of domestic violence and/or abuse between the parents or when one parent lives far away and cannot make day-to-day decisions, sole legal custody may be awarded to only one parent.
    • Biological Mothers: According to Indiana law, the biological mother of a child born out of wedlock has sole legal custody of the child, with some exceptions.
  2. Physical Custody:
    • Definition: Physical custody determines which parent the child will live with for the majority of their adolescent life.
    • Options:
    – Shared Physical Custody: In some cases, physical custody may be granted to both parents.
    – Custodial Parent: The parent with whom the child primarily lives is referred to as the custodial parent.
    – Non-Custodial Parent: The other parent is awarded parenting time (formerly known as visitation rights) to see their children.
    • Guidelines: Indiana emphasizes frequent and meaningful contact with both parents, ensuring adequate parenting time.
    • Relocation: If either parent plans to move, the court may require notice to be filed and may hold a hearing to amend custody, visitation, or child support orders.
    Remember that legal and physical custody arrangements can vary based on individual circumstances, but understanding these concepts is crucial during divorce proceedings. If you need legal advice specific to your situation, consider consulting an experienced Indiana family law attorney.
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