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What does legal custody mean

December 31, 2016 Blog

There are a number of situations where a person may attempt to gain legal custody for a child. When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to make all important legal decisions that affect a child. This involves such things as education, religion, healthcare, general welfare and more. Legal custody is different from physical custody, which covers the issue of where a child will reside.

Sole Or Joint
It is possible for legal custody to be given to one parent. This is known as sole legal custody. In this situation, one parent has the right to make all legal decisions involving a child. In other situations, legal custody can be given to both parents. This is known as joint legal custody. In this case, neither parent has superior legal rights concerning decisions for the child.

When parents have joint legal custody of children, it is necessary for them to work out a schedule to meet their needs. Should parents not be able to agree on an arrangement, the court will impose one on them. It these situations, it is understood both parents must agree to a healthcare plan, school, religious activities and more for their children.

Advantages Of Joint Legal Custody
Children growing up with this arrangement are able to experience the influence of both parents. It is a way for parents to work together for providing the best life for their children. This is also a good way for children to see their parents work together on their behalf. It provides motivation for parents to be nice to one another and make every possible effort to work out issues. This arrangement is also a good way for parents to decrease the stress of raising their children. One parent won’t have to make all the important legal decisions.

Advantages of Sole Legal Custody
When one parent has sole legal custody, they do not need to get agreement from the other parent for legal decisions. They will have the legal right to determine where their child attends school, their religious practices as well as medical treatment and more. It avoids arguments between the parents concerning these decisions because only one parent can legally make them.

Reasons To Seek Legal Custody
It is possible for one parent to seek the legal custody of a child. It is also possible for a person who is a relative or no relation to seek court-ordered legal custody of a child. This could happen for a number of different reasons.

*ABUSE – One or both parents have a history of physical abuse or sexual abuse toward the children.

*INCARCERATION – If one parent is in prison the other parent could seek sole legal custody of the children. Should both parents be sent to prison, a family member or other person could seek legal custody.

*NEGLECT – It’s possible one or both parents have a history of neglecting the children such as not providing adequate food, medical care and more.

*SUBSTANCE ABUSE – This is when one or both parents participate in the abuse of drugs, alcohol or another substance. It is a substance that alters a person’s mental state. This behavior will prevent children from receiving proper care.

*MENTAL ILLNESS – This is when one or both parents show signs of irrational or unpredictable behavior. Everything from parents who are suicidal to paranoid and more will make them unable to care for their children.

Obtaining Legal Custody
Each state has its own forms and paperwork required by a court for legal custody. This could involve all legally required documentation showing the need to obtain legal custody. There will be a fee for filing paperwork with a court. A non-custodial parent must be served with copies of the request. The last step is to attend a hearing. A court will review the request and ask any necessary questions. A decision could be made, or there could be a request for additional documentation. Most people benefit from working with an experienced attorney in these situations.



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