Custody is about much more than where a child sleeps at night, although that is an important part of it. For many parents in Missouri, there are complicated dynamics involved and decisions that cannot be foreseen at the time a child custody decision is finalized. Most child custody agreements and decisions will ultimately address issues pertaining to both physical custody and legal custody; therefore, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
Legal custody centers on what is referred to as decision-making powers. Parents will need to plan and agree on issues related to education and health care. Regardless of the time a child spends with a parent, if a parent has legal custody rights, that parent has a say in where a child is treated medically and by whom. Furthermore, schooling and education decisions as well as religious teachings and beliefs can also be addressed in a legal custody agreement.
Physical custody relates to the physical presence of the child with each parent. While joint custody often infers parents get equal time with a child, this approach is rarely applicable in real life. Therefore, physical custody or joint custody agreements must be customized for the needs of individual families.
Child custody agreements can be a major part of any family law matter, particularly during a divorce. Once Missouri parents come to a child custody agreement, each parent can have individual aspects of the agreement re-examined if necessary. This can be done through a modification as life changes warrant. Legal support can ensure each parent fully explores the rights and legal responsibilities associated with all aspects of a child custody agreement now and in the future.