In our previous family law post, we addressed the basics of physical custody. The other category of custody that must be addressed is legal custody. Legal custody can be summed up as follows: Who makes the big decisions?

That, of course, logically leads to the next question, what are big decisions? Before we get to that, it is important to understand the two options regarding legal custody.

First, and by far the most common, is joint legal custody. This type of legal custody allows both parents a voice in making decisions regarding the children. There is no tiebreaker vote as between the parents. Both parents have a say, and if there is a fundamental disagreement on an important issue, ultimately the court holds the tiebreaking vote.

The second type of legal custody is sole legal custody. In practice, sole legal custody grants one parent the tiebreaker vote. Given that there can only be two parents, if one parent holds the tiebreaking vote, that parent has sole legal custody. We’ll address sole legal custody and how a court may come to award that in a future post.

Back to the earlier question, why is legal custody important and what are the big decisions? In short: school, medical, religion. Relocation and where the child goes to school may become an issue. Medical disputes are rare, but for instance if a potentially risky medical procedure is a treatment option, there may be a disagreement. And on occasion parents may disagree as to what religion the child may participate in.

For additional information concerning legal custody, please go to our discussion of custody/parenting time. Please feel free to call ROBERTS MEANS, LLC at (317) 353-3600 or contact us via email if you have any questions concerning the custody of your child.