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Divorce Lawyers

Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law




This is about fathers' rights law, and protecting the best interests of your children. It provides information, news and comments on laws, cases and strategies for life as a single father and winning your custody, access or child support case.

When Joint Legal Custody Means Sole Legal Custody

Many times we see agreements or decrees that say the parents have joint legal custody and the mother (or the father) has physical custody of the children.

Legal custody is about long term parenting decisions, such as the education, health and religion of the children.  Joint legal custody means the parents are to make those decisions together.  Both have an equal vote and each has a veto power.

Physical custody means where the child resides most of the time.  The other parent has visitation or access or timesharing.  Each parent has care and custody of the child when they are with them, and can make day to day parenting decisions alone.

Here’s where legal world and real world part company.  In the legal world, long term decisions are required to be made by agreement.  But in the real world, if mom decides on her own to make Dr. A their pediatrician, dad usually doesn’t object.  If dad does object, his only recourse is to take mom back to court and that usually costs more money than it is worth.

So sometimes, joint legal custody and primary physical custody ends up being, as a practical matter, the same as sole legal custody.


4 Responses to “When Joint Legal Custody Means Sole Legal Custody”

  1. Ileen Steinborn Says:

    Glad you got to the 2-tier justice system at the end. That’s a whole other topic, but worthy of discussion as well. Cheap GW2 Gold

  2. Kristi Says:

    What is daughter wants to live with father who has joint-legal, mother has physical? Daughter is 16. Custody change was denied 7 months ago at age 15.

  3. James J. Gross Says:

    Kristi: At age 16, a child may file their own petition to modify custody with the court in Maryland.

  4. Greg Says:

    Or on our case where the judge ordered Joint Legal custody then stipulated that the mother has all rights to decisions for education, health, and well being. So despite the fact that we have Joint Legal Custody I have no decision making rights at all. Only because the mother refused to settle or agree on anything and kept telling the judge it was me being difficult, and he bought that cow plop.

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