Define primary physical and primary legal custody. I have both.

Asked over 2 years ago - Bentonville, AR

I have primary physical and primary legal custody. He left the state during the divorce and was awarded the non traditional visitation. He has since returned but is 5hrs away. 2 questions. Please tell me what is "primary" phys and legal custody? And, if my circumstances change and I wish to leave the state with my children can I since he already has or am I now bound. I live on the MO/AR border so I am not talking big move, in fact it would put the children 2 hrs closer to their father.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Scott Allen Scholl


    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . Basically "primary custody," whether physical or legal, is just that. Primary physical custody means that the child spends most of his/her time with that parent, while primary legal custody means that is that parent that has the primary say in matters affecting the children.

    You can compare that with “joint legal custody” which means the equal right of both parents to participate in decisions affecting the child’s life, such as education, medical, recreation, religious; "joint physical custody" as being that custody in which both parents share equal rights in the care, custody and control of the minor child; and "divided custody" as that in which each parent has physical custody for part of the year with reciprocal visitation privileges, and with the parent with whom the child is living having primary control of the child during that period.

Related Topics


Divorce is the process of formally ending a marriage. Divorces may be jointly agreed upon, resolved by negotiation, or decided in court.

Child Custody in a Divorce

Child custody may be physical or legal. Physical custody covers who the child lives with, and legal custody is the right to make decisions.

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