Legal custody is the term used to refer to decision-making involving your children. Joint legal custody means that decisions regarding your children’s education, health, religion and other major issues are made together with both parents involved. Joint legal custody is a status that encourages communication between parents and respecting the rights of both parents to have a say on important matters. For joint legal custody to work, both parents must maintain excellent communication post-divorce.
Physical custody is a term commonly used to refer to which parent is responsible for physically caring for their children on a day-to-day basis. Joint physical custody may be used to describe the situation where both parents share a large portion of time and responsibility for their children; and primary physical custody means one parent has the lion’s share of time with and responsibility for the children. Physical custody is a term of art and it is not necessary to include an award of physical custody in your divorce judgment (as compared to legal custody which is required and defined by statute).