What does Legal Custody mean?
A legal custody agreement gives one parent the legal right to make decisions for their child after a divorce. This means one parent has the right to make decisions regarding schooling, religion, medical care and housing. With legal custody the parent does not have to consider the other parent's wishes.
Legal custody differs from joint legal custody, which is a preferred custody arrangement in most states. In joint legal custody both parents must communicate with each other and make decisions together. Joint legal custody allows both parents to make decisions together regardless of where the children are residing.
The overriding factor all courts will consider when evaluating custody arrangements for children is what they determine to be in the "best interest" of the child. Factors considered by the courts include determining who has been the main caregiver for the child, the strengths and weaknesses of each parents, the mental and physical health of the parents, whether there has been domestic abuse in the family, the work schedules of each parent, whether there are brothers and sisters, the child custody arrangement the child desires and whether the parents are willing to cooperate together.
For more information check out this article -- How Courts Decide on Custody Issues