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What does it mean to be granted legal child custody?

Figuring out a parenting plan when going through a divorce or separation can be a challenging task for parents in Pennsylvania. Obviously, physical child custody is a big issue and the vast majority of parents just want to make sure that their children are put in the best environment possible. What about legal custody, though? Which parent will get the right to make important decisions for his or her child?

The parent who is granted legal custody will get to make decisions about his or her child's health care concerns, education, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, education and various other issues that directly affect the child's growth and development. These are decisions that any parent feels is his or her right to make. However, if legal custody is only awarded to one parent, that means that the other will not be given a say in these matters. That can be a tough pill to swallow for some.

Who is awarded legal custody is often determined by who is awarded physical custody. If one parent is awarded sole physical custody, he or she will also likely be granted sole legal custody. However, under certain circumstances, the noncustodial parent may be awarded some level of legal custody if it is deemed appropriate. In a joint custody situation, legal custody may be awarded to both parents. If this happens, good communication skills will be necessary to make it work.

Being able to be actively involved in a child's life, either physically or through the decision making process, is something that many parents desire. Divorce or separation can make this difficult but not impossible. An experienced family law attorney can assist parents in Pennsylvania in creating custody plans that fit their wants and desires and, most importantly, keep the best interests of the affected children front and center.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Custody", Accessed on May 9, 2017

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