If you have minor children, and are getting a divorce, it is important to understand the legal processes that will need to be established between you and your former spouse before the divorce starts or by the court if you cannot come to an agreement.

Legal Custody

One of the first things that will need to be determined is if both parents will share legal custody, or if one parent will have sole legal custody.

In general, legal custody grants you the ability to make decisions about how your children are raised. It gives you the ability to make decisions, either on your own or together with your children's other parent, about where your children will attend school and what type of religious upbringing they will have. It also allows you to make medical and dental care decisions for your child. Essentially legal custody allows you to educational, moral, social and medical decisions about your children.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is entirely different than legal custody. Physical custody is about who your children will live with. This can be divided up a number of different ways. Generally, though physical custody is either jointly granted or given solely to one parent.

If custody is jointly granted, your children's time will be split as evenly as possible between each parent and their respective homes. Ideally, at the end of the month, the child will have spent equal time at each parent's home.

The alternative to joint custody is sole physical custody. When sole physical custody is granted, the children live full-time with the parent who has sole custody of them. That does not mean that they don't see their other parent. Your child's other parent will be granted parenting time and is allowed to see your children on specific days and for very specific periods of time.

Child Support

Finally, child support will be determined by the court. Most states have a formula that they use to determine who gets child support and how much they get. These formulas' usually take into consideration how much each of you makes, how many children you have together and the amount of time that the children are in each of your custody. Child support agreements generally also outline which parent needs to provide health insurance for the kids.

Make sure that you hire an experienced family lawyer (like those at McFarland & Masters LLC) to help you navigate the legal side of how your divorce will affect your relationship with your children.