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Know the child custody lingo: Legal custody

When Connecticut parents decide to end their marriages, they face numerous decisions and challenges when it comes to their children. Without an understanding of the lingo they will hear, it might be difficult to make informed decisions. One definition regarding child custody that many mistake for physical custody is legal custody.

Most Connecticut parents can guess that physical custody relates to where the children will live. Legal custody, on the other hand, is something different. This type of custody deals with the rights of each or both parents to make decisions that will affect the lives of the children.

For example, one or both parents will be responsible for determining where the children go to school, their religion and their medical care. Most often, the courts will award legal custody to both parents jointly. However, there may be circumstances under which only one parent should have this type of custody. For example, if one parent is found to be unfit due to child abuse or substance abuse, the court may award one parent sole legal custody. If both parents share legal custody, one parent could be found in contempt of court for making any major decisions without the other parent.

If a parent believes that he or she should be awarded sole legal custody of the children, evidence to justify that result will need to be presented to the court. Since the default these days is to award joint legal custody, it might be beneficial to involve an attorney in the matter who regularly deals with child custody issues. He or she can help ensure that the appropriate evidence is present and otherwise advocate for that parent with the court.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Custody", Accessed on June 17, 2017

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