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Legal Information: Pennsylvania


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Laws current as of December 15, 2023

What is custody?

There are two main forms of custody, physical and legal:

Physical custody is the actual physical possession and control of a child (a person under 18 years old). It refers to the person with whom the child lives, either all of the time or part of the time. Sole physical custody is when one parent alone has physical custody (the other parent may get visitation) and shared physical custody is both parents share physical custody, with each parent having significant periods of time with the child. Custody can also be divided into primary (when one parent has the child for the majority of the time) and partial (when one parent has the child for less than a majority of the time). Physical custody can also be supervised, when an agency or another adult monitors the interaction between the parent and child.1

Legal custody is the right to make major decisions about the child, which typically include educational, religious, and medical decisions. Legal custody can be sole (given to one parent alone) or shared.1

1 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5322(a)