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What is Legal Custody of a Child?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2022 | Child Custody

Child custody in California is divided into two categories: legal and physical custody. Physical custody refers to where a child will live, but what does legal custody mean?

Put simply, legal custody is a parent’s right to make important decisions about their child’s well-being. This does not refer to everyday decisions like what to have for lunch. Instead, it involves decisions regarding:

  • Healthcare (except regarding emergency needs)
  • Education and where a child goes to school
  • Religion and religious activities
  • Covid-19 vaccines

In most cases, California courts want parents to share legal custody. Joint legal custody gives both parents the authority to make such decisions, however, it requires the parents to make these decisions together. Joint legal custody does not necessarily mean that parents share physical custody. Even if a child lives with one parent most of the time, both parents might share decision-making authority.

Joint custody is preferred unless:

  • The parents refuse to work together to make decisions
  • The judge determines one parent is unfit
  • It is in the best interests of the child for one parent to be in charge of the decision-making

When one of these things is true, the judge will award one parent sole legal custody. This means that the one parent will have the full authority to make decisions for the child’s welfare, education, health, religion, and similar issues. This parent does not have to get the other parent’s input or opinion before making a decision. Still, this parent with sole legal custody might not have sole physical custody.

Speak to a Long Beach California Child Custody Lawyer

At Furubotten Law, we represent parents in custody cases and help address both physical and legal custody issues. Our Long Beach California child custody lawyer can help you reach the best arrangement for you and your child. Contact us to learn how we can help with your custody case today.