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A custody primer for Las Vegas parents, part two

Earlier this week, we began a brief overview of the different subcategories within child custody and the terminology that describes each. In our last Las Vegas family law blog post, we discussed physical custody, which dictates where a child will live after his or her parents separate or divorce.

Many parents think that physical custody is the end of the story; however, that is not the case. There is another form of child custody that, arguably, is more important than physical. That form is legal custody, which is often described as the "decision-making authority."

As such, a parent with sole legal custody has the authority to make all necessary decisions regarding the child's health care, education, religious upbringing, child care and the like. However, family court judges do not award sole legal custody very often, rightfully believing that both parents should have a say in how their child is raised.

Naturally, this can create some disagreements between the parents, especially if their divorce was a bitter one. To preemptively avoid disputes over child-rearing decisions coming back to family court, some judges break up the decision-making rights and duties into "spheres of influence." Under these plans, the parent that feels especially strongly about religion, for example, will have the final say on religious decisions, while the parent that is most concerned about education will make the schooling decisions.

Although physical and legal custody are very different from one another, there is one overarching truth that applies to both: parents are better off if they can reach a custody agreement on their own instead of relying on a judge to make an order. This will allow them to craft a plan that is best for their children and their family as a whole.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Custody And Its Different Components," Eyal Talassazan, Oct. 16, 2012

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