Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Legal, Physical, and Primary....what's the difference?

The first family law order I prepared was like Latin to me (a lot of the law literally is Latin). But 100's of family law orders later I've come to realize that it can actually be broken down very simply. So here goes:

The two main parts of custody to really understand are Legal custody and Physical custody. We'll worry about Primary Custody and how Child Support plays into this a little later.

Legal Custody: Legal custody is easy, it just means who gets to make the important decisions in a child's life--almost always the big three: what school they will go to, what medical treatment they will get, and what religion they will be raised in. Assume it's always joint, or 50-50. The only other alternative is sole, to one parent. You usually can't have a 40-60 split legal custody. Absent some kind of detriment, such as a parent who uses drugs, abuses the children, or perhaps is in prison and not able to assist with legal decisions, legal custody is 50-50. But what if there's a tie vote? Then you either have to deal with it on your own, or drag the other parent into court. For Jon and Kate, legal is 50-50.

Physical Custody: A little harder, but not bad. Who will spend what percentage of time with the children? It can be 50-50, or any other combination. When you have more than 50, you are considered to hold "physical custody" with the other parent having visitation rights. Holding physical custody is by no means an automatic indication the other parent never sees the kid or it's some kind of victory for you. It just means, you happen to have the children the majority of the time. What's more important is how much primary do you have? Do you have 70 to 80 percent? Well, then you might want to brag. Here, Kate has physical custody, because her time with the children is more than 51 percent. We have not been told the exact percentage she holds or the arrangement. For all we know, she could have 51 percent, given we see Jon with the kids all the time. When you have less than 50 percent, then you are referred to as holding "visitation rights." Jon has visitation rights, that's all we've been told. It gets complicated because actually arranging what time who spends with whom can be a nightmare. In general, the more time you spend with the kids, the less child support you pay.

Now on to the other stuff.....

Child support: Paid by the person who doesn't have physical custody. Here, Jon. How much you pay in PA is based on a complicated formula of your income and the children's needs and the amount of time you spend with them. It is not punitive, nor permanent! It can change based on changes in your own situation (you lose your job, or you get your dream job).

Primary Custody: Simple as it comes. What is the children's address for purposes of school records, government records, etc.? It is much easier if they have just one. That is all this means. Here, it's Kate's address. It's hardly something to brag about. What's more important is how much physical custody you have.

7 sediments (sic) from readers:

Irene said...

Thank you administrator. That is some kind of complicated scenario.

We will see in the future how much time Kate really spends with the kids versus Jon.

My exspouse and I get along great. Everything boils down to the best interests of our kids. We have a divorce decree but never use it really. I have never had to want for a thing for my girls, he even does for my stepchildren. We vowed from day one that the children would never have to choose who to love, who to be loyal too. They love us both and they both are loved by us.

I hope Jon & Kate arrive at that day. When co parenting comes before media & film opportunities. What I see is 2 parents who are only concerned about themselves & leave the hired help to take care of the Gosselin Daycare Center.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Administrator, this clears things up.

I think Jon has close to 49%. He is there a lot. She is too. I think it seems like half/half split. Kudos to them for the custody arrangement. I hope she allows him to keep staying in the garage apartment. Maybe that was part of the arbitration? I don't know too many women who would, but it seems nice for the kids that they aren't packing up all the time. More kudos- no fights about religion, schools, and the divorce didn't drag out.

Irene said...

Also, the explanation about primary custody shows that the lawyer for Kate G. Mr. Mark M. was spinning the "primary custody" rhetoric in statements when divorce was finalized.

Administrator said...

Spot on Irene, it was just laughable that they claimed primary custody was some kind of victory. They knew a lot of people don't know the difference so they spun it in their favor knowing full well it meant nothing. All it means is Kate and the kids have the same address! And I also think their arrangement is very close to 50-50, given how much we see of Jon over there. Some big victory for Kate...NOT. Moreover, why would Kate want to take the kids away from Jon and then gloat about it? Shouldn't she brag about how happy she is the kids get to see him all the time because of their 50-50 split? Ridiculous.

Irene said...

LOL Administrator ~ I do not think neither parents priority is to be with those children as much as they can. The parents are very self absorbed right now.

That staff they have has to be expensive. You could not pay me enough to have to deal with either of those parents. I would take the kids in a heartbeat.

Irene said...

Also, the explanation about primary custody shows that the lawyer for Kate G. Mr. Mark M. was spinning the "primary custody" rhetoric in statements when divorce was finalized.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Administrator, this clears things up.

I think Jon has close to 49%. He is there a lot. She is too. I think it seems like half/half split. Kudos to them for the custody arrangement. I hope she allows him to keep staying in the garage apartment. Maybe that was part of the arbitration? I don't know too many women who would, but it seems nice for the kids that they aren't packing up all the time. More kudos- no fights about religion, schools, and the divorce didn't drag out.

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