Legal custody is an important aspect of any divorce involving children. In short, this gives a parent the legal right to make a variety of long-term decisions about raising their children.
Many of these decisions are related to the following:
- Education, such as choice of schools
- Religious beliefs
- Extracurricular activities
- Health care
While not always the case, legal custody is typically awarded to both parents. Known as joint legal custody, this means you'll work alongside the other parent to make decisions that are in the best interest of your children.
What about sole legal custody?
Unlike joint legal custody, this gives you the power to make all decisions regarding your children. While you have the right to take into consideration the opinion of the other parent, you are not required by law to work alongside them when making decisions.
Family law courts prefer joint legal custody, but there are situations in which sole legal custody makes more sense. For example:
- If a parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse
- If a parent has a history of domestic violence
- If there are concerns about child neglect
As you go through the divorce process, don't lose sight of what's in the best interests of your children. You should clearly understand the finer details of joint and sole legal custody, as well as what makes the most sense for your particular situation.
If you share legal custody with your ex-spouse, and this person is not following court orders, you may want to take immediate legal action to protect both yourself and your children.