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Child custody decisions involve several components

When parents separate and need to make important decisions regarding minor children, there is a lot more to consider than just where a child will sleep at night. There are two separate elements in most every child custody case. Missouri parents often must address issues concerning both legal custody and physical custody, and it is important to understand the difference between the two.

Legal custody refers to the actual decision making that needs to be handled by a parent, whether the child is with that parent at that time or not. For example, legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions and have a say in matters concerning a child's education and health care. Religious decisions involve input from a parent who has legal custody of a child. Legal custodial rights may be shared by both parents regardless of the time a child spends with each parent.

The other component of child custody that needs to be addressed is physical custodial rights. This outlines when and where a child spends time with each parent. Missouri courts focus on ensuring the best interests of the child are protected and will make decisions regarding physical custody that are determined to be in the best interest of the child. Typically, the courts strive towards joint custodial rights which refers to spending somewhat equal time with each parent. While thought of as even and most fair, the actual time breakdown does not necessarily mean an equal number of days.

Child custody agreements can get complicated and often require rounds of negotiations and possibly even litigation as the child grows and needs change. It is important to understand the intricacies of a child custody agreement and how to deal with situations that may require a modification to a child custody order. Missouri parents who want to understand more about the difference between legal and physical custody can learn more on our firm's website.

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