Joint legal custody is a child custody arrangement in which both parents share the right and responsibility to make major decisions about their child’s upbringing. This includes decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and general welfare.

In California, joint legal custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the child. This means that courts will generally favor awarding joint legal custody to both parents, unless there are compelling reasons not to, such as domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse. The court looks at what custody arrangement is in the “best interest of the child.”

When parents have joint legal custody in California, they must consult with one another and come to mutual agreements about major decisions regarding their child. For example, if the child needs braces, both parents must agree before moving forward with that decision. If one parent wants to change the child’s school, they must get the other parent’s consent.

Both parents have an equal right to access school, medical, and other records related to the child. They also have equal rights to authorize medical treatment, enroll the child in school, and obtain documents like passports and driver’s licenses. Neither parent’s rights are superior to the other.

Disputes between joint legal custodians are usually settled through mediation, counseling, or in court. Parents can lose joint legal custody if they are unable to cooperate and make mutually agreed-upon decisions. In that case, the court may award sole legal custody to just one parent.

It’s important to note that joint legal custody is distinct from physical custody. Joint legal custody only gives both parents equal rights in making major decisions about the child. It does not mean the child spends equal time living with each parent. Physical custody and parenting time must also be arranged separately in a court order.

Overall, joint legal custody allows both parents to remain actively involved in their child’s life after separation or divorce. By requiring mutual agreement, it encourages parents to resolve disputes through compromise and cooperation. Joint legal custody is widely recognized as being a positive arrangement for children, provided the parents are able to communicate effectively and work together.

Do you need a lawyer for your California child custody case? Contact our team at the Bledsoe Firm by calling (949) 363-5551.

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