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What’s the Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody in Orlando, FL?
As a parent, nothing is more important to you than the welfare of your children. When circumstances beyond your control—like a divorce—threaten the stability of your family, it’s natural to want to do everything in your power to protect your kids. That’s where child custody comes in.
There are two types of child custody in Florida: legal custody and physical custody. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between the two.
What Is Legal Custody?
Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions about their child’s welfare, including religious upbringing, education, and healthcare. In Orlando, FL, legal custody can be awarded to both parents jointly or to one parent exclusively.
Joint vs. Sole Custody
In joint legal custody arrangements, both parents must agree on major decisions about the child’s welfare. If the parents cannot agree, then the court will make a decision. Courts in Florida begin with a presumption that both parents should play an active role in their child’s life, so they seek, as much as possible, to award joint legal custody.
In contrast, sole legal custody gives one parent the final say on major decisions. The other parent may still be involved in making these decisions and will be consulted by the custodial parent, but ultimately it is up to the custodial parent to make the final decision. This is rare because it’s not in the best interests of your child.
In Florida, courts presume that joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise. This presumption can be rebutted if there is evidence of domestic violence, substance abuse, or child abuse. Courts will also consider whether the parents live close to each other and whether they are able to communicate effectively when making a decision about legal custody.
What Is Physical Custody?
Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where a child will live. A parent with primary physical custody is typically referred to as the “custodial parent,” while the other parent is referred to as the “non-custodial parent.”
In some cases, parents may share joint physical custody of their child, which means the child will spend an equal amount of time living with each parent. Even in cases where you and your child’s other parent don’t share joint custody, one of you may still have your child regularly on weekends, holidays, or even a few nights during the week. Whatever the final arrangement, a court always seeks to ensure your child’s relationship with each parent remains intact.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Orlando, FL?
In Orlando, FL, child custody is determined by a judge after considering all relevant factors, including:
The age and health of the child
The relationship between the child and each parent
The work schedule of each parent
The mental and physical health of each parent
Each parent’s ability to provide a stable home environment
The preference of the child (if the child is old enough to express a preference)
Any evidence of domestic violence or abuse
Child custody can be a complicated legal matter. If you have questions about child custody in Orlando, FL, contact an experienced family law attorney for help.
Contact Our Orlando Family Law Attorneys Today
Understanding your rights as they relate to your child after divorce can be confusing. Let a seasoned team help guide you in your effort to protect your rights and your relationship with your child. Contact the experienced Orlando divorce lawyers at McMichen, Cinami & Demps today to get compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance. Contact our Orlando, FL office at (407) 898-2161 to schedule a free consultation.