What Is Joint Legal Child Custody?
When parents have “joint legal child custody,” they share the responsibility to decide issues relating to their children. They have to work together to come to agreements about the health, education, and well-being of the kids. With joint legal child custody, the parents have to make all reasonable efforts to agree before making decisions. Where possible, these agreements should be in writing.
What rights does joint legal child custody give parents?
Decisions About Education and Activities
Parents with joint legal child custody have to agree before enrolling the child in a new school (or daycare). They should also agree before starting or ending tutoring or special education. Parents have to also agree before advancing or holding back a child a grade. Similarly, agreements have to be made before authorizing special school programs such as sex education or intruder safety drills.
Parents should also agree before enrolling the child in any extracurricular activities or camps, or participating in religious activities. Additionally, each parent has access to the child’s school records, and the right to consult with professionals who are providing services to the child. The child’s registration forms for school, activities, etc. should list both parents.
Decisions About Healthcare
When parents have joint legal child custody, they have to confer before beginning or ending health services for their children, including mental health, doctors, dentists, optometrists, or any other healthcare professional. Similarly, there has to be an agreement before selecting or changing medications or the course of medical treatment (except in an emergency).
Parents with joint legal child custody have equal access to medical records, and the right to consult with the medical professionals who are providing services to the children.
Decisions About Travel
When parents share joint legal child custody, they have to come to agreements before making certain travel arrangements. Depending on the situation, this includes both travel outside the State of California, and travel outside of the United States of America. Similarly, there has to be an agreement to get or renew a child’s passport.
Other Joint Decisions
In addition, parents with joint legal child custody should agree before signing the children up for driver’s education, for a driver’s license, or allowing the purchase of cars for the children. The same goes for letting the children to get phones, get jobs, get married, or enter the military.
Neither parent can change the child’s name or use a different name on the child’s records without permission. And, parents have to tell each other, as soon as possible, when there is an emergency involving the children.
If parents can’t agree on one of these issues, they have to seek a court order.