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Joint Legal Custody Laws

There could be many issues that arise once a court orders joint legal custody of the child to the parents. These issues could be big or small, but it is often difficult for parents to take decisions on their own. Joint legal custody has many legal details and technicalities which people may not be familiar with. Often, parents have questions about the joint legal custody rights and laws. Family Lawyers on JustAnswer frequently answer joint legal custody questions and provide legal insights, information and their Expert opinion that may help you sort out your issues affordably and quickly. Given below are some of the top joint legal custody questions that have been answered by Family Lawyers on JustAnswer.

What is Joint Legal Custody?

When a couple gets separated or divorced any of the following may happen: either one of them is granted custody of the children, they both may be granted joint physical custody of the children, or they both may be granted joint legal custody of the children. Joint legal custody means that both parents have legal custody of the child with one of them being the primary parent. Joint legal custody usually gives both the parents equal rights to take decisions about the child’s life, like schooling, religion, health care, extracurricular activities, day care arrangements and out of country travel. Joint legal custody is usually awarded to the parents only if it is found to be in the best interest of the child. Ask Family Lawyers on JustAnswer about any specific joint legal custody laws and rights that you need clarifications about.

In Joint Legal Custody, can the Primary Parent Move to a Different Place with the Child?

When joint legal custody of children is granted, one of the parents is usually made the primary parent of the child. In a situation where the primary parent has to move to a different place with the child, he/she may do so by filing a petition for a move away order and visitation. The primary parent may explain the reason for moving away and convince the court that the idea is not to alienate the child from the other parent. A copy of these papers may be sent to the other parent. The court will then take a decision based on the best interest of the child.

Child Unhappy with Primary Parent in Joint Legal Custody

The joint legal custody law entails the child to live with the primary parent most of the time. In a situation where the child is unhappy with the primary parent and does not want to stay with him/her anymore, the child may apply for emancipation or formal change of custody. Either of the petitions may take three to six months to finalize. However, if the child chooses emancipation, then the current primary parent may be free from paying for the child’s expenses.

What Can be Considered as Major Medical Decisions in Joint Legal Custody?

When a court grants joint legal custody of a child to the parents, it means that they have equal rights to take major decisions in the child’s life. These decisions also include medical decisions. In many cases, parents are confused as to which medical decisions are considered major. Medical decisions that require the consent of both the parents may include decisions like surgery, a debate if the medical procedure is necessary or a decision to change doctors. However, if the child requires counseling and needs to be taken to a counselor, it may not be considered medical treatment in most cases and hence not a major medical decision.

Can One Parent Object to the Primary Parent’s Decision to Modify Visitation Arrangements?

In most cases, joint legal custody gives visitation rights to one of the parents. The time for visitation is usually decided after agreement from both parents. However, in some cases it may happen that the parents by mutual consent agree to let the child be with the non-custodial parent for a longer period of time. If for some reason, the primary parent decides to modify this arrangement, the non-custodial parent cannot refuse or object in most cases, unless the court order allows him/her to do so. If the parent wants to extend his/her visitation time, he/she can do so by filing a petition in court to modify the visitation orders.

Joint Legal Custody and Child Support

In joint legal custody cases, one parent is usually made the primary parent and the other parent may have to pay child support. The child support should be paid by the parent and failure to do so can lead to punishment. In some cases, even where the primary parent and the child may be out of country for a period of time, the other parent is required to pay child support and cannot refuse to do so. In a situation where the child is 18 years or older and is not staying with the primary parent, the other parent may either give the child support to the child or to the relatives with whom the child is staying.

It can get difficult for parents to understand or know all the finer legal details of joint legal custody. Sometimes they may be unaware of their rights. It is always better to consult an Expert about joint legal custody issues than try and solve them on your own. Family Lawyers on JustAnswer can answer your questions on different issues about joint legal custody, child support, divorce or legal separation.

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Recent Joint Legal Custody Questions

  • Question Regarding Child Support: My husband is divorced with

    Question Regarding Child Support:
    My husband is divorced with three children from a prior marriage. They are G-20yo, B17yo, B14yo. He and his ex have joint legal custody; however physical custody is with his ex as all three children reside in her home. His oldest (g-20yo) boards at college for the months Sept-May. His daughter has taken 4K in loans each year so far. My husband pays for 70% of her tuition (minus loans) (approx 8-9K per year) which includes room and board, meal plan and various campus fees. His ex pay 30% (minus loans). In addition he pays $2500/month in child support (or $833 per month per child). He pays this amount continuously even when he daughter is away at school and it is in addition to his 70% share of college. All mentioned thus far is per his divorce agreement. He also provides her with $500 at the beginnning of each sememster for spending money, extras, etc. This is not mandated.
    His daughter does very well at school. She is just entering her third year at college and so far she has taken 20 credits every semester. She also participates in the fine arts studies so oftentimes she is in rehearsals during the evening for semester shows. She does participate in the work study program, but the majority of that money (if not all) goes towards her books. During her summer and winter breaks from school, she has always carried a part time job. This year she is working two part time jobs. For the past two years, she has been continuously stressed as her savings from the jobs which she holds over her summer and winter breaks isnt enough to last her the entire school year. My husband asked her where all her money goes and she said items for her dorm room and this year since she will be living off of campus, she will need to buy food/groceries, towels, various apartment items in addition to requiring spending money.
    My husband has approached his ex in the past and has shared his thoughts regarding this issue. He feels that his daughter she be given a monthy allowance from the child support that is provided for her. Its not alot $150-$200 / month (out of her $833/month share). I can't repeat what his ex told him, but she basically told him to mind his own business and that HE should fork over the extra money since (exact quote) "that poor kid works hard every summer and she is struggling". My husband agrees; however he feels that why child support is still sent every month. If his daughter were living at home with her mother, she would have the benefit of towels and food. This would be in part provided to her via child support, so what is confusing is why is it not provided by the mother; yet she is still collecting the child support? The official question is - Is he allowed to cut $200/ month from child support checks and directly deposit the $200 every month into an account that is solely in his daughters name so that she has money for food while away at college. He would only do this for the months that she is boarding at school. The remaining months, he would provide the full $2500/month to his ex. If the scenario mentioned is not permitted, is there a reason as to why? If parents have joint legal custody of the children and the money is for the child, why is the mother the only one permitted to decide how the money is spent. No one is questioning what she does with the remaining $2300./month. I promise you this is not a means to make her life difficult but rather it just seems unjust to send money for the child to find that she is left to her own devices (somewhat).
  • Is there any type of continuity of care or other legal stance

    Is there any type of continuity of care or other legal stance to continue therapy for my son and continue to have his father responsible for 50% of the cost even though his dad says that he will no longer pay for the visits?
    BACKGROUND:
    My ex and I have joint legal custody of our two children.
    Our son started having suicidal thoughts in April 2014 so we took him to his Primary Care Physician (PCP) on April 16 and he referred us to therapist and we had first visit on April 24. We were told by the PCP on April 16 and during the first visit with the therapist on April 24 that the appointments my not be covered by insurance, but that my ex could contact his insurance (kids are covered through his work insurance) and confirm. My ex and I both signed all the consent and billing paperwork and we each pay 50% of each visit. Our son had had 10 visits with the therapist and he is doing better. He has also established a safe and comfortable rapport with the therapist and he told both his dad and I that he wishes he had started to see the therapist much earlier.
    Over the course of the past 2 1/2 months I have asked my ex 5 times, via email, if he has looked into reimbursement for the appointments.
    Well, yesterday my ex told me that he finally got around to checking with the insurance and it looks like the appointments are not covered so he told me to cancel all future appointments because he will no longer pay. He said that if I do not cancel the appointments then I will be 100% responsible for all costs.
  • My husband is divorced with three children from his first marriage.

    My husband is divorced with three children from his first marriage. My husband and his ex have joint legal custody and all three children (G-20yo, B-17yo, B-14yo) live with their mother. Its less than 20 minutes away in Nassau county. In addition to my husband's three children from the first marriage, we have two (B-3yo, B-1.5yo) together.

    My husband and his ex were divorced in Nassau county in 2006. Their divorce agreement states that the medical coverage is to be provided by the father for all three children until the age of 21 (or when they graduate from college). (I am not 100% of the exact verbiage as I dont have the agreement with me; however it is either "provided by" or "under the father's insurance plan...")

    My husband works as a consultant and has an LLC. Benefits for him are provided by his place of business; however coverage for spouse and children is paid for out of pocket at the rate of $1700 per month. I recently went back to work and the company which I work for has fantastic benefits. I pay much less per month for self plus children and I have $0 copays (med/prescription/dental) with the new plan while the plan my husband carried is $50 copay with additional co-insurance (depending on service). I inquired with my HR dept to see if I were permitted to cover stepchildren. I was advised that it would not be an issue. I also informed the benefits administrator at my new company that my three step children did not live in the same home as my husband and I; rather than lived with their mother. I asked if this would be an issue and I was advised that it was not.

    SO - I am covered under my plan as are my three step children and my two biological children. My husband is not as it didn't make sense since IF he already had insurance provided to him (which he does), he would not be permitted to drop that in leui of mine; rather he would take mine as a secondary ins..

    So here is my question - my husband informed his ex about the new insurance. He informed her about the plan, how to pick doctors (we verified that their current doctors were all a part of this plan), and even sent her the guide in the event she had any questions. She is stating that she will be contacting her lawyer as their divorce agreement states that the insurance needs to be in his name (the agreement definitely does NOT have that specific wording in there, so I am not sure why she says that). She also states that the fact that it isn't in his name is ***** ***** as it will cause problems. From a law perspective if my husband and I make choices for our household and family to choose a better insurance plan that affords us more savings and I am able to keep the children covered with adequate (actually more than adequate ins), is this in violation of a divorce agreement? I am not sure if this piece is relevant but my husbnads ex. obtained a job in Jan 2007 working for the county where she gets excellent medical coverage for free. (previously she did not work). This includes for her three kids as well. My husband still carried them on his insurance plan, paying out of pocket. So the three older children are covered twice - by their mother and by their father (via me).

    Sorry so lengthy, I am just trying to give as much information as possible for a clearer answer. Thank you for all your help!!
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