What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody (or care & control)? My spouse and I both want custody of our children. What will happen if we cannot agree?

  • Legal custody authority to make decisions over the health, safety and welfare of the child. Where parents have joint custody of a child, they both have an equal say as to decisions affecting their child.
  • Physical custody (sometimes referred to as "care and control"): Deals with matters like where the child resides and how much time each parent spends with the child.
  • Access/ visitation rights The right of a parent to visit a child who is in the care and control of the other parent.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on issues relating to the children, a Court will decide in the best interests of your children, which parent is to have custody and the extent of access for non-custodial parents. You may wish to consider Mediation which would give you greater control over the outcome and put into place a shared parenting plan that's workable for all parties concerned.

This article is for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified lawyer, provided specifically with reference to all the facts of a particular situation and the law of your jurisdiction.
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