Did you know that, under Georgia law, when you are considering the issue of child custody during a divorce, it is important for you to know the difference between legal custody and physical custody?
Legal custody refers to who gets to decide your child's "legal" issues: e.g. which doctor your kid sees, where your child goes to school, and which church your child attends. On the other hand, physical custody generally involves with which parent will the child primarily "physically" live. In many divorces, a party may have more bargaining flexibility as to legal custody than physical custody. In other words, even though you may want to fight for physical custody, you may be willing to allow your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," to have joint legal custody, (provided you are the final decision maker). Let me explain what this means.
While every situation is different, for many couples going through a divorce, you may choose to allow your spouse, "Sluggo," to have joint legal custody, provided you get to be the final decision maker, in the event of any disagreements about medical, education, or religious issues. In other words, provided you are the final decision maker, you aren't really giving much up, are you? By agreeing to joint legal custody, you are essentially just allowing "Sluggo" to feel better because he gets to have some input and access to school or health information, but, provided you are final decision maker, you would still generally get to make all the important (final) decisions concerning legal issues affecting your child's life. That is why you may be willing to bargain and possibly allow "Sluggo" to have joint legal custody, (with you as final decision maker).
However, you may still choose to draw the line by insisting on being designated the primary physical custodian, in the settlement agreement. Again, the spouse who has primary physical custody is the one with whom the child generally lives, and the one who most likely will get child support.
Again, every situation and every divorce is different. So, it is important for you to discuss your situation, and child custody issues, with your divorce lawyer. But I hope you now see some of the important distinctions between legal custody and primary physical custody! Now, let's just hope "Sluggo" doesn't read this blog, too!