Legal and physical custody are very different, and you may be granted custody rights in either or both areas. Physical custody is what people usually think of first, involving the children's living arrangements. So, what rights does legal custody give you?
It's all about making choices and guiding the course of the children's lives. There are many questions that parents face as their children grow and mature.
- Where are the kids going to go to school? Do you want to put them in public school or private school? Will you use the freedom to choose a school offered in Michigan, or will you pick the closest one to the children's home?
- What medical care do the children get? Are you going to give them vaccines? If they're injured, what types of surgeries and procedures are you willing to authorize?
- What religion or religions should the children be exposed to? Are you interested in bringing the children up in the same religion that you follow? This is often a point of contention when two parents have different religions and both would like the children to follow theirs.
- What type of dental care should the child get? When do you want to start going to those appointments? Are you interested in using corrective devices, like braces, despite the cost?
- What extracurricular activities are the children allowed to participate in? For instance, would you allow your son to play football, or do you think it's too dangerous?
These are by no means all the things you'll have to consider, but these examples help to show you what legal custody rights you may have.
As you work through the divorce, be sure you understand all of your options and where you stand. Even after your divorce, a custody modification could grant you more authority to help make the best decisions for your kids.
Source: FindLaw, "Legal Custody," accessed Jan. 25, 2018