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Understanding shared legal custody

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2022 | Child Custody & Support |

Most people are familiar with what physical custody of the children entails, given that it gets all the spotlight in custody proceedings. Few understand legal custody and what it means when you share legal custody with your co-parent.

Legal custody involves the decision-making authority of parents in important aspects of their children’s lives. If you share such responsibilities, your co-parent cannot act on their own without your input. Otherwise, it could be a violation of the custody orders.

When can the court order shared legal custody?

In most cases where the parents share physical custody of the children, the court will likely grant joint legal custody, meaning that both parents will be involved in all aspects of their children’s lives. However, one parent can be denied legal custody if the court determines that doing so is in the best interests of the children.

What decisions need a consensus?

Not every decision requires consultation among co-parents if they share legal custody. If the child’s life will not be impacted in the long term, your co-parent does not have to seek your approval. Emergency cases, too, do not necessarily require a consensus.

However, critical issues in the children’s lives, such as their education, religion, or medical procedures on a child need both parents’ involvement.

Protecting your parental roles and responsibilities

If your co-parent does not consult you before making significant moves with the children, such as relocation to a new neighborhood or changing schools, you can enforce the custody orders in court. If you’re unable to agree on things like the children’s medical care or education, that may require more judicial intervention.

While it is advisable to first try and talk things out with your co-parent, you must be ready to go all the way in protecting your role as a parent. It will ensure your children’s wellbeing, given that you have a say in the decisions affecting them.

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