If you are ending your Washington State marriage and you have children under the age of 18, or with special needs, then the topic of child custody is going to come up. It is going to be one of the more significant aspects of your divorce settlement, mediation agreement, or decree. It is going to set the stage for how you are able to parent your child. Thus, it is important to know what legal custody is and what it is not.

Legal Custody Is…

Legal custody refers to who has the legal authority to make decisions for the child. For example, a parent with legal custody may decide things such as:

  • Education – Will your child go to public or private school?
  • Religion – Will your child attend religious school? Will your child attend religious services and celebrate holidays?
  • Health care – Is it time to take your child to the doctor? Will you consent to surgery?
  • Upbringing – Should your child go to camp, go on a school trip, or play a sport?

Of course these are just examples of the many decisions that parents with legal custody must make for the children.

Legal Custody Is Not….

Legal custody is not physical custody. It is possible, and common, for one parent to have primary physical custody of the child and for both parents to share legal custody of the child. It is important not to confuse the two types of child custody.

How to Get the Custody Arrangement That Is in Your Child’s Best Interest

As much as child custody determinations affect parents, child custody is ultimately about what is in your child’s best interest. It is important to prepare your arguments with the help of an experienced lawyer so that you can resolve your child custody issues as quickly as possible during divorce proceedings. Please browse the free child custody resources on our website to learn more about how to protect your child’s best interests during this difficult time and into the future.

Molly B. Kenny
Connect with me
Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington