Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Physical Care Definition:

A variant of child custody distinguished in some jurisdictions as the mere right to maintain a home for the minor child and provide for his/her routine care.

Related Terms: Custody, Guardianship

Justice Streit of the Supreme Court of Iowa wrote this, in re Marriage of Fennelly & Breckenfelder, in which the mother had been awarded physical care pursuant to a previous court order:

"Iowa law distinguishes custody from physical care.

"Custody concerns the legal rights and responsibilities toward the child, including decisions affecting the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.

"Physical care, on the other hand, is the right and responsibility to maintain a home for the minor child and provide for the routine care of the child.

"When considering the issue of physical care, the child's best interest is the overriding consideration.... If joint physical care is not appropriate, the court must choose one parent to be the primary caretaker, awarding the other parent visitation rights."


  • In re Marriage of Fennelly & Breckenfelder, 737 NW 2d 97 (2007)

Categories & Topics:

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!

rolex replica