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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.

Ask a Family Lawyer

Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 9160
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
7286322
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
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9 Family Lawyers are Online Now

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Recent Joint Legal Custody Questions

  • I am a divorced mother of two boys. I have joint legal custody with their father, althoug

    I am a divorced mother of two boys. I have joint legal custody with their father, although they are primarily with me. My ex husband has remarried and his new wife insist on taking the kids to the doctor when they are visiting their father. Is this with in her right. Is there anyway I can stop her from taking them to the doctor (unless their is an emergency)?
  • In a Judgment filed this year regarding child custody implementation

    In a Judgment filed this year regarding child custody implementation plan it states the following:
    Legal Custody - The parties shall have the joint legal custody of the minor child, with myself designated as the domicillary parent who is the parent with whom the child shall primarily reside and in accordance with R.S. 9:335(B)(2)(3).
    I understand that allows me to make all major decisions (subject to the review by the court upon motion of the other parent).
    In the judgment it also reads : "The parent having residential custody at a given time will be able to make minor decisions of the moment without consulting the other parent (exceptions being major decisions with reference to medical care, education, religion, etc.)"
    My son was forced to have to change from a school he attended since he was 22 months old to attend a public magnet school that his father attended as a child. I did not have the funds to pay for his private schooling. My ex did but just wanted him to go to the school he went to. The problem is my son since he was a baby has temperament and sensitive issues that are ongoing and is having some issues this year with behavior. If I am able to get the funds, do I have the right to change his school and put him back where he was comfortable and excelling without the permission of my ex base don the R.S. ruling referenced above or do we as parents have to both in agreement to do this and probably have to go back to court?
  • CA CASE: My divorce with a child (4years old now) was filed

    CA CASE:
    My divorce with a child (4years old now) was filed by me in 2010 and finalized on 4/4/13. I (the mother) was awarded Sole physical custody and joint legal custody with the final decision making authority. My ex-husband (NCP) has fielded for multiple modifications to which he never was awarded any change in custody due to our domestic violence case in 2010 which he pled guilty to. Well on 9/19/2014 he filed again with Orange County courts to modify custody to 50/50 and we have mediation on 10/23 and court on 11/6. The only thing different this time is he has NOT served me any documents. I know about this case via the courts case access page and I ordered all the documents to be delivered to my house. He has made false accusations that I am an absent parent and that I physically abuse my child which I NEVER do. I am unable to afford a lawyers retainer fee (he doenst pay his court ordered child support) so I am forced to be self-represented. Since my ex has not served me and there is no proof of service on file should I respond to the case and file it with the courts and show up to mediation and court, just show up and not respond, not do anything and then open my own case? If you could please offer that bit of advice I would be very grateful..
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