Legal custody is the term used to describe decision making regarding your children. If the Court grants joint legal custody it means that the Court found it is in the best interests of the children that the mother and father will make major decisions regarding the children jointly.
What is a Major Decision?
The standard parenting plan defines major decisions as the significant decisions about the children and they include the following examples: the choice or change of schools, including college or special tutoring; choice or change of physician, surgeon or dentist; religious instruction, training or education; major medical care, surgery, or any medical procedure requiring hospitalization or out-patient surgery; major dental work and orthodontia; psychological or psychiatric treatment or counseling; the choice or change of camps or other special or extracurricular activities; the extent of any travel away from home; part or full-time employment; purchase or operation of a motor vehicle; contraception and sex education; actual or potential litigation on behalf of the children.
What about Smaller Everyday Decisions?
However, not every choice regarding the kids will fit into the above category. So in regards to daily, everyday decisions like minor medical treatment, bedtimes, homework, chores, selection of clothing and normal daily activities, the decision shall be made by the parent having actual physical custody at the time of the decision. This keeps the joint decision making to a reasonable level.
How Does Legal Custody Work in Emergency Situations?
There may not always be time to call and discuss a joint decision. If you must make an emergency decision that affects the health and safety of the children then parent who is with the minor child requiring emergency care may make the emergency decision. The parent making the emergency decision shall advise the other parent of the nature and extent of the emergency as soon as possible. Respectful communication is the key in these situations.