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What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

A parent with legal custody decides on long-term decisions involving the child’s life, including education, religion, medical care, and other major decisions concerning the child’s general health and welfare. Parents of their children have joint legal custody unless the court orders otherwise.

Physical custody is the time each parent spends with the child. The term “primary residential parent” means just as it sounds: the parent with whom the child primarily resides. The majority of children whose parents do not live together primarily reside with one of their parents; however, a growing number of children for an equal, or nearly equal, amount of time with parents who do not live together.

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