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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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