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Legal Custody

Legal Custody in Washington, DC

When discussing child custody, there are two types: physical and legal.

In some cases, one person may have sole legal and physical custody of a child, while in others both parents may share physical and legal custody. 

These terms refer to two very different concepts, and understanding the difference is important to fully understanding your child custody agreement.

What Is Legal Custody?

Legal custody is the right of a parent to make long-term, possibly life-altering decisions for the child.

These decisions can include:

  • Where the child goes to school
  • What religion the child practices
  • What doctors the child sees
  • What health care treatments the child receives
  • Whether the child receives special education services
  • Whether the child gets braces

In many cases, both parents share legal custody of the child, as both are determined to be invested in the health and welfare of the child.

However, a parent can be given sole legal custody if the other parent is deemed unfit to make decisions in the child’s best interest.

Some conditions that could disqualify a parent from joint legal custody include a history of drug use, domestic violence, or child neglect.

Legal custody has nothing to do with where the child resides; that is physical custody.

What Is Sole Legal Custody?

If you have sole legal custody of your child, then you alone are responsible for making decisions regarding your child’s education, religion, and medical treatment.

You are not required to get the other parent’s input when making these decisions.

What Is Joint Legal Custody?

With joint legal custody, both parents share in the decision-making responsibilities regarding the child’s education, religion, and medical care. 

This means that disputes over these decisions must be worked out between the two parents. If disagreements cannot result in a compromise, the parents may have to go into mediation or court.

Most states prefer joint legal custody unless there’s a good reason one parent is unfit.

Child Custody Attorney in Washington, D.C.

To help you navigate the sometimes complicated process of determining the physical and legal custody of your child, you need an experienced child custody attorney. At Lopez Law Firm, we’ve worked with dozens of families from a variety of backgrounds, helping them find the resolution they deserve. Schedule your consultation today!

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