Legal Snack: Custody, Legal And Physical, What’s The Difference, Part One

The ongoing Legal Snack series from Family Matters Law Group is designed to give short, concise introductions to key legal topics that our clients ask us about frequently. By watching each video, clients can learn important information and are prepared for more efficient, productive office visits.

In this month’s legal snack, Mrs. Edidiong Aaron, founder and owner of Family Matters Law Group, begins to answer a frequently asked question: What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

Here is part one of Mrs. Aaron’s explanation:

Key Questions From This Legal Snack

In this brief video, Mrs. Aaron addressed the topic of legal custody. There were two key questions:

  • What is legal custody?
  • What happens when parents can’t agree and they share joint legal custody of the child?

What Is Legal Custody?

When it comes to custody, most people think of physical custody or the living arrangements for the child. However, the court will also award legal custody.

Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions that affect the child. This includes everything from what school the child will attend, what medical treatment they will receive, and even what religious faith tradition they will follow as they are brought up.

In fact, Georgia law notes four distinct areas that fall under legal custody. They include educational issues, religious upbringing, non-emergency medical treatment decisions, and extracurricular activities.

In most cases, parents will be awarded joint legal custody, meaning they will share the ultimate decision making for the child. By awarding joint legal custody, the court is ensuring that both parents have a say.

When Parents Can’t Agree

What happens when parents with joint legal custody can’t agree on what is appropriate for their child? For example, one parent wants the child to attend school at the highly regarded public school nearby, but the other is insisting that the child attend a private school?

In this case, the court would expect both parents to sit down and make a reasonable effort to hash things out. In case they cannot do that, usually, one parent is given the ultimate decision-making status in each of the four areas above.

So, in this example, whichever parent has the ultimate decision-making status on educational decisions gets to have the final say. Understand that the court does not have to give the top dog status in all four areas to one parent. They can split the areas, for example, giving one parent final say in medical, educational and extracurricular areas, but reserving religious decisions for the other parent.

An Experienced, Caring Attorney Can Help

Legal custody decisions are important. Every parent wants to feel like they are included or have a say in significant decision making that can impact their children for years to come.

An experienced, caring attorney can help you advocate for your legal custody rights in court and can help you to gain the final say in matters that are most important to you.

If you are in the Atlanta metro area and are seeking help in a case involving legal custody issues, contact Family Matters Law today either online or via phone. We’re ready to hear your story and fight hard for your family and your assets!