Legal custody includes the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child. In ruling on parental disputes involving the exercise of custody, courts are to apply a “best interests of the child” standard.
In exercising joint legal custody, the parents will share in the responsibility and confer in good faith on matters concerning the health, education, and welfare of the children. Some of the specific decisions the parents must make together include the following:
- enrollment in or leaving a a particular private or public school or daycare center;
- participating in particular religious activities or institutions;
- beginning or ending of psychiatric, psychological or mental health counseling or therapy;
- selection of a doctor, dentist, or other medical professional;
- participation of extracurricular activities;
- out of county or out of state travel.
If the parents are unable to discuss and agree on decisions together, the Judge may grant the authority to one parent to make decisions in certain areas and to the other parent in other areas. Such orders are unusual and most likely to be made in cases with highly conflicted parents.
If joint legal custody is ordered there are certain health care notifications that are required. Each parent must notify the other parent of the name and address of the health care professional who examines or treats the child, and the notification must be done prior to the examination.
Each parent is allowed to take any emergency actions necessary to protect the health of the minor child, but must notify the other parent as soon as possible.
Both parents are required to administer any prescribed medications that the child may have.
Each parent is designated as a person the child’s school will contact in case of an emergency.
Neither parent can change the name of the minor child without the written consent of the other parent.
There are many areas that are covered within joint legal custody. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to make sure you are complying with the requirements or to request a change. Attorney Bethanie L. Fanti will fight aggressively to make sure your rights are protected and you get the best possible outcome. Call today for a free consultation (714) 505-3108.