Joint Legal Custody

Guidance from Our San Diego Child Custody Lawyers

When parents divorce, most experts believe the best solution for the children is for the parents to reach an agreement on who will take care of what parenting responsibilities. However, some parents are unable to agree on custody or visitation and a judge will make the decision for them.

Decisions of custody are based on the child’s best interests. A judge will usually approve a custody plan agreed upon by both parents, but there are several steps in finalizing a custody plan. If immediate problems are present, custody and visitation can be decided on a temporary basis.

Presently, in California courts, the terms “legal custody,” “physical custody” and “visitation” are used during divorce proceedings that involve children. A judge can give custody to one parent, both parents, or another adult if it is in the best interests of the child, even though the judge would have to believe the child’s welfare is compromised if given to one or both of the parents.

Legal custody includes the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religion, health care and other important concerns. In most instances, physical custody is awarded to one parent with whom the child will live with the majority of time. A decision for joint legal custody means parents share both the right and responsibility to make important decisions about their children’s health, education and welfare.

Looking for counsel? Turn to the San Diego child custody lawyers at The Edmunds Law Firm.

Joint Legal Custody Decisions

For example, decisions affected by joint legal custody could include where the child will attend school, or if they should get braces for their teeth. Child custody disputes can be complicated, and a qualified San Diego family law attorney can help you understand your rights and duties concerning children. Reaching a decision of joint legal custody does not mean it is permanent. If circumstances change, the possibility of returning to court and requesting a change in the parenting plan is possible.

The concept of joint custody was introduced in the 1970s to propel the active participation of both parents in raising their children, and the first joint custody statute was passed in Indiana in 1973. When California adopted joint custody laws in 1980, shared parenting quickly spread and is currently present in all 50 states.

California established unprecedented new legal protections for gay partners in custody battles after the California Supreme Court and, in August 2005, put same sex relationships on equal footing with married couples concerning issues of raising children. The Supreme Court concluded that lesbians who agree to raise children borne by their partners could be considered legal parents after their relationship ends with the biological mother. Rulings strengthened the custody rights of non-biological parents in same-sex unions, clarifying uncertain legal conditions for gay couples across California who choose to have children.

Joint legal custody was created to allow children the right to have a relationship with both parents, regardless of the parent’s dissolution. The unanimous decision by the California Supreme Court to recognize gay and lesbian couples raising children as lawful parents shows the extension of what the law believes to be the best interest of the child. California case law stated a child couldn’t have two mothers, leaving the non-biological parent without rights to joint legal custody or any custody at all. But the latest rulings have changed the family law landscape in the state.