Child custody can be shared between the kids' parents or it may be granted to only one of them. Custody is actually a term that can refer to two very different ways of exercising parental rights over one's offspring: through physical contact and control of the child or through legal power to help guide the child's upbringing. This post will focus on legal custody of a child.
If a parent is granted legal custody of their child, then that parent is allowed to exercise their opinion and decision-making power over choices that are related to the child's upbringing. For example, a parent with legal custody may push for (or against) their child growing up within a particular religion; the parent may also use their rights to help decide where and how the child will be educated.
In many cases, a parent with legal custody can be part of the decision-making process when their child must receive medical treatment and care. It is possible for one parent to be granted the exclusive legal authority over a child's rearing, but often courts grant parents shared legal custody of their kids and the parents must then work together to serve the best interests of the child.
Legal custody is only one small part of a comprehensive child custody settlement or hearing. Physical custody, visitation, and other matters may need to be dealt with as the matter unfolds in court. With the help of a family law attorney, many parents are able to achieve custody arrangements that serve their children's best interests.
Readers of this Brandon family law blog are encouraged to discuss their individual child custody and visitation questions with legal representatives in their communities. As every family law case will involve the specific facts and circumstances of the individuals who are parties to the matter, it is not possible for readers to use the information contained in this post as legal advice. Rather, readers may find its' contents useful as a way to introduce an otherwise complex legal topic.