Mar 18, 2013 | Child Custody


As a couple divorces, there are many options to be considered regarding formulating a co-parenting plan. As we discussed in Part 1 of this 3-part Child Custody blog series, parents can be awarded temporary, permanent, or even de facto custody. Part 2 of the series will discuss the difference between legal and physical custody.



Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make major decisions for a child. This authority is awarded by the courts, and can be awarded to one parent, or both parents. Legal custody includes decision-making regarding the following issues:

  • Religious upbringing. This includes choosing which church/religion the child participates in, frequency of church visits, etc.
  • Non-emergency medical decisions. Having legal custody allows the parent to choose the child’s doctor, make decisions regarding medication and how to treat an illness/injury. Such custody also comes with the responsibility of making sure the child’s medical needs are adequately met.
  • Educational decisions. This authority includes choosing which school to send the child to, at what age to begin sending the child to school, and choosing a teacher. With this authority also comes the responsibility of making sure the child’s educational needs are met in terms of grade-level proficiency, and learning development.



Physical custody refers to which parent the child spends the majority of his or her time with. Once physical custody is granted to one parent, several issues will need to be addressed regarding the following:

  • Visitation. Typically when one parent is granted physical custody of a child, the other will have visitation rights. Visitation can be supervised or unsupervised, and visits can last for as long as the parents agree.
  • Child Support. When one parent is granted physical custody of a child, the non-custodial parent is usually required by the courts to pay child support. This monetary support serves to care for the best interest of the child in place of physical care, support, and time spent with the child.


Sometimes both parents will split both physical and legal custody as the courts see fit, and sometimes one parent will be awarded complete custody in both the physical and legal sense. The possibilities for custody arrangements are numerous. To devise a functional and efficient co-parenting plan, it is often in the best interest of all parties involved to hire an experienced child custody attorney.


For more information on your options regarding child custody, please feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.