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Divorce Library > Physical Custody


Physical Custody
Physical custody involves the day-to-day care of a child and where a child will live when parents divorce or separate.
Physical custody is differen than legal custody. The parent with physical custody has the right to have his/her child live with him/her. If a child lives primarily with one parent, that parent is said to be the custodial parent with sole physical custody. The other parent would be considered the non-custodial parent and would typically have visitation rights to his/her child. If a child lives equally or close to half the time with each of his/her parents in a child custody and visitation parenting schedule the parents are said to have joint physical custody. In some joint physical custody arrangements, a parent that has more time with the child may be denoted as having primary physical custody of his/her child while the other parent has secondary physical custody.

Joint Physical Custody
According to the California Family Code section 3004, "Joint physical custody" means that each of the parents shall have significant periods of physical custody. Joint physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way so as to assure a child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, subject to Sections 3011 and 3020."

Sole Physical Custody
According to the California Family Code section 3007. "Sole physical custody" means that a child shall reside with and be under the supervision of one parent, subject to the power of the court to order visitation."

Primary Physical Custody
Primary physical custody is a term that is often used to denote the parent with whom a child spends or lives the great majority of time with.
It is a term that is often used in cases where parents are awarded joint physical custody and one parent has slightly more time than the other. However, in California, the term "primary physical custody" is not found in the family code and there is no statutory language to define its legal meaning. Nevertheless, the courts continue to implement orders labeling one parent as having "primary physical custody," which has created issues with its interpretation, particularly in "move-away cases," or in cases in which the parent with "primary physical custody" seeks permission from the court to relocate a significant distance, such as out of state, with his/her child.

More About Physical Custody
Whether you have a custody order that defines who has physical custody or if there is no order that defines who has physical custody of the children, physical custody is an important legal term that you should become familiar with. Having a general knowledge and awareness of common legal terms, such as "physical custody," and with the help of an experienced family law attorney, you can have greater assurance that you are doing what is necessary to protect your parental rights, parental responsibilities, and your relationship with your children. To present your case to Southern California divorce attorneys, divorce lawyers, and child custody attorneys in your area now, click here >>

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