parental authority and custody Realistic 1

Differences between parental authority and custody: what decisions can I make?

It is common to confuse parental authority and custody.

During marriage, the difference between parental authority and custody is not usually appreciated . Because it is usual for both parents to exercise equally and by common agreement all functions as parents with respect to their children.

But in case of separation or divorce the difference is noticeable. And many times, due to disagreements between parents, it is important to be clear about the differences between parental authority and custody.

Let’s see what parental authority and custody are, as well as how they differ and, more interestingly, what types of decisions parents can make in each case.

What is parental authority?

It is the set of powers and duties that correspond to parents to fulfill, regarding minor, non-emancipated or incapacitated children, functions such as:

  • Assistance: daily care, attention, hygiene, health…
  • Comprehensive education and training: behavior, studies, culture…
  • Representation: Parents have legal representation for their minor, non-emancipated or incapacitated children.
  • Administration of their assets: although the children’s own assets belong to them, their administration corresponds to the parents, with some exceptions.

What is custody and custody?

On the other hand, guardianship and custody is the set of ordinary decisions that affect the coexistence, care and daily assistance with the children.

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Guardianship and custody is an integral part of parental authority.

How is parental authority different from custody?

In the event of separation or divorce , parental authority is generally attributed to both parents. Although it is possible to attribute it to one of them or even to its deprivation or extinction.

The same thing happens with custody , which can be exercised jointly by both parents or exclusively by any of them.

In both cases, parental authority and custody can be private or terminated due to the death of one of the parents, or by court order.


  1. It involves the general representation and administration of the assets of minor children.
  2. The parental authority of non-emancipated minor children is acquired by being a father or mother.

Guard and custody

  1. In the case of guardianship and custody we refer to the habitual and daily coexistence with minor children.
  2. Guardianship and custody can be exercised by one of the parents exclusively or by both on a shared basis, either by agreement approved by the Judge or by judicial decision.

What decisions fall within parental authority?

In general, any decision that has to do with education, health, freedom, physical and moral integrity. 

Specifically, these are some decisions that fall within parental authority:

  • Change the child’s school and enroll him in an educational center.
  • Transfer the address .
  • Modify the order of the child’s surnames.
  • Manage the minor’s assets.
  • Decide about your health (surgical operation, medication administration…).

These decisions will be made by mutual agreement between both parents.

In case of disagreement , the judge will be asked to make the decision who, together with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, will ensure the well-being and interest of the minor .

See also  Affiliation between parents and children

What decisions can be made within custody?

As we say, custody refers to the daily coexistence between parent and children.

Thus, the type of decisions that affect custody are:

  • Food, care and daily hygiene.
  • Take or bring your children from school.
  • Choice of clothing.
  • Help you with homework.
  • Mandatory vaccinations.

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