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What is legal custody, and how does it impact parental rights?

After a divorce, your main priority is protecting the needs and interests of your children above all else. Regardless of how difficult your relationship is with the other parent, you will want to provide as much stability and continuity of lifestyle as possible. One way you can do this is with a thoughtful child custody arrangement.

As a parent, it is in your interests to understand all of the factors that could impact your parental rights and your relationship with your children. An example of this is legal custody. In addition to how much time you will get with your children, you will also want to consider legal custody as well. This could impact your right to have a say in certain aspects of your kids' lives.

Your right to have a say

Physical custody refers to all of the time you have with your children. This includes weekend visitation, vacation, holiday schedules and much more. It is in your interests to also consider legal custody, which is the authority to make certain decisions in the life of your child. Some of the things that legal custody refers to include the following: 

  • Religious upbringing
  • Education
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Medical care

If having a say in these types of things is important to you, you will want to pursue a child custody order that allows you to share legal custody with the other parent. A court will likely lean toward shared custody, but issues such as past drug abuse, criminal convictions and other factors could affect if a parent is able to have legal custody.

Of course, you and the other parent have the right to craft a custody order that works for your family out of court. Negotiated agreements are often more sustainable and beneficial than court-ordered custody plans. By working together, you can consider the unique needs of your children. You can also include a plan for handling matters related to legal custody, such as a method by which you and the other parent can make decisions together.

Protecting your rights

You will want to do everything possible to protect your parental rights in a divorce, but you probably also want to do everything you can to protect the best interests of your kids as well. This can seem like an impossible task, but you do not have to walk through this process alone. When it comes to dealing with matters related to child custody, you may find significant benefit in working with an experienced Georgia attorney.

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