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Divorcing parents may have to share legal and physical custody

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Family Law

The end of a marriage usually results in many significant changes for the family. Parents who have children with each other may face a more complex process than those who only have to divide property.

Custody matters tend to be among the most intense issues addressed during divorce. The average parent probably doesn’t know much about parental rights and responsibilities according to Indiana state law. For example, they may not understand that there are actually two different components to custody that a judge must divide when people divorce.

Indiana family law judges have to create custody orders that address both legal and physical custody. What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

Physical custody is what people often prioritize

The term physical custody refers to the responsibility to be physically present with the children and meet their basic physical needs. A parent with physical custody has to provide the children with nutrition, transport them to school and obtain medical care if they have an illness or injury that requires treatment. The division of physical custody can have an immense impact on the relationship that parents enjoy with their children after the divorce.

Legal custody is also important

Despite how dismissive people often are about legal custody, it is of the utmost importance for those raising children. Legal custody is what gives a parent the authority to make choices on behalf of a child. A parent asserts their legal custody when they enroll their children in school or hire a therapist to provide them with mental health support. Legal custody can be as important as physical custody to address in a divorce.

Parents are as likely, if not more likely, to fight over major decisions about their children as they are to disagree about how they divide time with their children. The presumption in most divorce cases is that shared custody is the best option. However, judges can sometimes decide to give one parent more time with the children or more of a say in major decisions about their upbringing.

Learning the basic rules that govern custody matters in Indiana can help parents secure the best possible outcome. Those who seek both legal custody and physical custody are likely to have more influence on their children’s upbringing.