Joint legal custody involves the mutual rights and responsibilities of parents for major decisions regarding their child’s education, medical care and emotional and physical welfare. Physical custody is with whom and when the child resides.
Virtually every parent receives joint legal custody. Until recently, the Family Court frequently awarded one parent primary physical custody and awarded the “visiting” parent “reasonable visitation.” The trend, however, is not awarding parents joint legal and joint physical custody.
As a practical matter, except for three issues, the designation or label, of physical custody is meaningless. The only three areas where the label of physical custody has any significance are:
1. The standard for a subsequent change of custody;
2. The method in which child support is calculated; and
3. The standard for a proposed relocation with a child outside of Clark County.
Parents should generally focus on what time share is in the best interests of their children and not the “label.” At the same time, however, parents should also understand that the custodial label could have a significant impact on their legal status for the duration of their child’s minority.