Family law is one of the most emotional practice areas in the legal world, and many cases often address child custody. The first thing most people think of when it comes to custody is where their children will live. This is undoubtedly important, however, there’s more to custody than living quarters, and if you don’t know what that is, you risk losing significant say in how your children are raised.
There are two types of custody: physical, which is where children will spend the majority of their time, and legal, which is who will make their decisions until they’re legally adults.
So, what does this all mean?
Physical custody has no real bearing on how legal custody is decided. Without legal or joint legal custody, you don’t have the authority to make decisions on their behalf. These decisions include:
- Health care
Who decides the terms of legal custody?
If you and your ex can amicably agree to joint legal custody, it is your decision with approval of the court. If you can’t come to an agreement, a judge will decide whether to award joint legal custody.
Courts usually decide to grant joint legal custody if it’s in the best interest of the children. Some of the factors they consider include:
- Fitness of the parents
- Stability of the parents
- Relationship between the parents and children
- Distance of the parents to one another
- How well the parents communicate
- If the non-custodial parent doesn’t get joint legal custody, the custodial parent will have full legal custody.
What legal custody affects
When the custodial parent receives full legal custody, they can basically trump any opinion of the other parent. For example, if a father proceeds through a custody hearing without counsel, he may not know to ask for joint legal custody, leaving him with no legal grounds to affect these major decisions for his children.
Joint legal custody is important for families with different religious preferences, opinions on schools, or even whether kids should be given medication or subjected to elective surgery. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to get the custody you need.
For more information, contact Kisti Good Risse at 765-742-9066.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.