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Understanding the definitions of legal and physical custody

If you are navigating the child custody process in Minnesota, you may find that the different terms and legal jargon make everything feel more complex and overwhelming. It is very important that you understand what the different terms mean, because otherwise, you may be unclear in regard to your rights and the potential outcomes available to you.

Two terms that may have been mentioned to you are legal custody and physical custody. These are two important phrases to pay attention to because many parents make the mistake of equating their meanings. They are actually very distinct to one another.

What does legal custody mean?

Legal custody refers to a person's right to make decisions on behalf of a child. This includes the legal right to decide what school the child will go to, the type of medical care that the child will receive and what religion the child will be raised under. Legal custody is usually awarded to both parents, but in some situations, sole legal custody will be awarded to one parent.

What does physical custody mean?

Physical custody refers to a parent's right to have visitation with the child. This means that the child will spend time under their care. It is possible for a parent to have legal custody without having physical custody, and this is why they are viewed distinctly under the law.

If you want to gain legal or physical custody of your child, it is important that you take action swiftly. By taking the time to understand the law, you will be better equipped to make a compelling case.

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