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What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2022 | Child Custody |

If you are a parent divorcing in Indiana, you should know about the two types of custody and how they can impact your family.

Like many states, Indiana treats physical and legal custody of children differently. Sharing legal custody can help you remain in your children’s lives even if your former spouse has physical custody.

Physical and legal custody

After divorce, children primarily live with the parent who has physical custody. Indiana courts follow specific guidelines when determining how much time children will spend with each parent. In Indiana, joint physical custody means your children stay with you and your former spouse in approximately equal proportions.

When you have legal custody of your children, you can have input regarding choices that impact your children’s healthcare, education and religious upbringing. Divorced parents who share legal custody must consult one another and make decisions as a team.

Custody arrangements

There are different types of custody arrangements for families in Indiana. The courts aim to prioritize the interests of the children when determining custody. If you pursue joint legal and physical custody, your children reside with you and your former spouse in equal proportion, and you both share the responsibility of making choices regarding your children’s lives. You can also share legal custody even if one parent has physical custody. This arrangement allows both parents to have a say in important educational, religious and medical decisions. Sometimes, one parent has both physical and legal custody. However, the court can still grant the noncustodial party “parenting time” if it is in the children’s best interest.

Legal and physical custody are separate in Indiana. You should understand child custody arrangements if you are a parent seeking a divorce.


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