Providing their children with loving and stable homes during a divorce may be the priority of parents all across Massachusetts. They may become focused on deciding where their children will live and how they will share in providing the day-to-day care to their kids. This form of parenting is often referred to as physical custody, as it relates to the physical well-being of children. There is another form of child custody, however, and it can have a big impact on how parents work together to raise their shared children.

Legal custody is the form of child custody that involves making decisions about a child’s life. A parent does not have to have physical custody of their child to have legal custody. When a parent has legal custody, they can use their voice to influence and guide important conversations about how their child should be brought up.

For example, if two parents share legal custody of their child, then both can be involved in the decision of where the child goes to school. One parent cannot unilaterally make these decisions if both maintain their legal custody rights. Aside from education, decisions about religion, medical care, and other important topics may all be involved in legal custody conversations between divorced co-parents.

When a divorce occurs and children are involved, the court will attempt to serve the children’s best interests when it establishes child custody and co-parenting responsibilities. Parents should be aware that legal custody is an important right that they can maintain in the wake of their divorces. Their family law attorneys can help them advocate for their continued involvement in their children’s futures.