There are many different types of custody. Each of which has different requirements, restrictions and benefits. One that appears frequently is Joint Legal Custody. Joint legal custody generally refers to the right and responsibility to make decisions with important and long-term implications for a child’s best interest and welfare. Usually, when a judge orders that parents have joint legal custody, they must agree on everything which affects their child’s interests and welfare.
Essentially, joint legal custody is designed for parties who at least somewhat get along. But sometimes a judge may order joint legal custody when the parents do not get along at all. When this happens, it turns on the language the trial court used in granting joint legal custody. If the trial court granted one parent final decision-making authority, then he or she can very likely make decisions for his or her child so long as it is in the best interest of the child.
However, even if the court does not elaborate as to whether one parent has final decision-making authority, then one parent may still be able to make certain decisions so long as he or she follows certain procedures. First, the parent must confer with the other parent about the decision. Second, the parent must ensure that the other parent has access to the ultimate decision. Third, the decision must be in the best interest of the child.
As an example, consider a scenario where a father who has joint legal custody wants to place his child into a private school, but the mother does not. For the father to be able to place the child into the private school without fear of violating any custody arrangement he must do the aforementioned three things. First, the father must confer with the child’s mother about the school. Second, the father must list the mother as a contact at the school. Third, placing the child in the private school must be in the child’s best interest. If the father does not do these three things a court will likely rule that the father acted unilaterally and did not act in the best interest of the child by doing so.
Joint legal custody is a complicated custody system that is generally more suited for parents who at least somewhat get along, but a judge oftentimes does not take that into account. Navigating what you can and cannot do as a parent with joint legal custody can be a complicated situation and if you need help with this, King Law is happy to help you.
King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. We serve the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina. Call 888-748-KING (5464) today for a consultation with one of our dedicated family law attorneys.