Legal Custody Defined
The term custody refers to the legal and physical custody of your child.
Legal custody is the authority that parents have to make decisions for and about their children. This includes decisions about education, medical care, religion, extracurricular activities, etc.
You need to include information about how you and the other parent will share or divide legal custody in your parenting plan.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plans and parenting time schedules.
There are several ways that parents can share legal custody:
- Both parents communicate about all major decisions and decide together what they want for their child. For example, the parents decide together what school their child will attend.
- Each parent makes decisions for the child when the parent has physical custody of the child. For example, if the child gets sick while with the father, the father decides what doctor to take the child to.
- The parents make big decisions together and smaller decisions individually when they have physical custody of the child. For example, the parents would decide together what school their child would attend, but if the child has an after school field trip, the parent who has physical custody of the child during that time would decide if the child should go.
- Each parent has authority over certain areas of decisions. For example, the mother would have the authority to make decisions about school, and the father would have authority to make decisions about religion.
Sole legal custody is an arrangement where one parent has full responsibility to make all decisions for the child.
Sole legal custody is becoming less common because many state custody guidelines have a default for joint legal custody. In these states, sole legal custody is awarded only if a parent shows that joint legal custody is harmful to the child.
Sole legal custody may be necessary in cases of child abuse, neglect, abandonment, parental substance abuse, parental instability, or other situations where a parent has placed a child in danger.