Legal Custody vs. Physical Placement - Milwaukee Divorce Lawyers

If you’re like many divorcing parents, you have dozens of questions for your Milwaukee divorce lawyer… and some of them revolve around the differences between legal custody and physical placement. The two are very different things, and because other states have different names for them, it can be a bit confusing.

What is Legal Custody?

Legal custody is the right of a parent to make major decisions about his or her children. Those major decisions can include things such as:

  • Routine healthcare
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Permission to obtain a driver’s license

There are two types of legal custody: joint and sole. In joint legal custody, both parents have the same rights to make those decisions for their children. In sole legal custody, only one parent has the right to make those decisions.

What is Physical Placement?

The term physical placement refers to the time when your children are in your or your ex’s care. Many divorcing couples agree on physical placement schedules based on what works best for their families. A placement schedule can be relatively equal between both parents, place children with one parent during the week and the other on the weekends, or fit into an entirely different schedule.

Some placement orders are very specific, and in many cases, that’s helpful; those that are vague can be tough to enforce.

Who Decides on Legal Custody and Physical Placement?

Ideally, you and your ex-spouse will agree on what’s best for your children. However, as you may have already discussed with your Milwaukee divorce attorney, that’s not always possible.

If you and your ex cannot agree, you may decide to go through mediation on your own, or the judge in your case may tell you that you must visit a mediator at least once.

Finally, if you’re unable to reach an agreement through mediation, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (an attorney who represents your kids’ best interests) to make recommendations. The court will ask for input from the parents, and in some cases, court social workers before making a final decision on legal custody and physical placement.

Do You Need Help With Legal Custody and Placement?

Many people find that it’s a good idea to talk to a divorce attorney in Milwaukee before attempting to negotiate legal custody or physical placement during a divorce.

If you need help, we’re here for you. Call us at 414-383-6700 in Milwaukee. You can also contact us online if it’s easier.