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Know the difference between legal custody and physical custody

When California parents go through divorces or separations, they are left with the difficult task of deciding how best to divide their time with the children that they share. They may both want to have their children live exclusively in their homes or they may hold different opinions about how decisions should be made regarding their children's health and well-being. Where children live and how they are raised are general definitions of the two kinds of child custody that parents may secure when they separate themselves from their children's other parent - physical custody and legal custody.

Physical custody has to do with the physical possession of the child. In California, it is possible for one parent to have sole physical custody of their child while the other parent has visitation with the youth. It is also possible for parents to share physical custody of their child in a joint physical custody arrangement.

Legal custody concerns a parent's right to make important decisions about how a child is raised. Often, these decisions will concern where a child is educated, how a child is given medical treatment, and if a child will be introduced into a church or faith system. As with physical custody, legal custody may be granted exclusively to one parent or may be shared by both parents in a joint legal custody agreement or order.

Child custody is a broad term for many different considerations that parents must make when their children's lives are thrown up in the air by the termination of their parents' relationship. Both physical and legal custody are important rights that parents can seek to preserve as their family law matters play out and many parents trust the counsel of divorce and family law attorneys when deciding how best to address their child custody needs.

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