Joint legal custody is often a complex and challenging experience, especially if the other parent is opposed to the arrangement. It’s not uncommon for one parent, especially the child’s mother, to use the situation to punish the ex-spouse for selfish gains or to resolve personal conflicts. They may also be unreasonable in decision-making to complicate things for their ex-spouse.

If you’re a father facing such issues in a joint legal custody arrangement, you may not know what to do if you and your ex-spouse can’t agree on matters concerning your child. You’re probably wondering if you can make decisions without consulting the child’s mother. Maryland family law attorneys can provide legal counsel and advise on your rights and options.

What Are the Basics of Joint Legal Custody?

Joint legal custody is also known as shared parental responsibility or shared legal custody. Parents can have joint legal custody with joint or sole physical custody. It implies that both parents have a shared responsibility and rights in deciding how to raise their children.

Best Interest of the Child Should Always Come First

The child’s best interest is the most basic standard in determining custody arrangements, regardless of location. It protects a child’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being while ensuring the parents are fit to provide the best possible care. The exact factors that a court examines in determining the best interest of the child may vary, but the following must be present;

  • The emotional ties and relationship between the child and each parent and other members of the household
  • The capacity of the parents to provide the child’s basics needs, including a safe home
  • The ability of the parents to safeguard the mental and physical needs of the child
  • The child’s wishes if they’re of an age and maturity level to decide
  • Federal and state child protection statutes

When Courts May Assign Joint Legal Custody

The joint custody parenting arrangement works best where both parents can and are available to make crucial decisions concerning the child. The parents must be willing to work together in making critical medical, education, and welfare decisions for the child. Most states prefer this parenting option in divorce cases over sole legal custody.

Besides, the parents must share fundamental values, making it easier to make effective decisions on extracurricular and religious activities. Co-parenting is less likely to be challenging when both parents are on the same page concerning what they want for their child.

Courts may not assign joint legal custody if one parent has a history of being unreliable or gets out of touch with the child for extended periods. Communication skills are crucial to making this arrangement work. If you’re worried because your ex-spouse doesn’t cooperate in your joint legal parenting arrangement, you should consult a Baltimore father’s rights attorney.

Who Makes Decisions in Joint Legal Custody?

During the initial stages of your separation, you and your ex-spouse have rights to your child, including the right to decide what should happen to them. Neither parent can unilaterally withhold custody or make decisions about the child without the other’s consent.

That may change once a divorce decree is issued, depending on the type of custody the court grant the parents. However, in joint legal custody, the following decision-making requirements apply unless otherwise specified:

  • Both parents must consult with each other on significant nonemergency decisions concerning the child
  • One parent can make day-to-day care decisions concerning the child during the time the child is in their care.
  • Each parent can independently make decisions about the child during emergencies. However, when one parent makes such decisions, they must inform the other parent within a reasonable time.

These conditions don’t allow either parent to take advantage of the situation to violate the physical custody arrangement unless in an emergency. If your physical custody rights have been violated as a father, let a men’s child custody attorney in Baltimore intervene and help you fight for your rights. 

What If My Ex-Spouse Won’t Agree with My Decisions?

In many cases, parents with joint legal custody often find it tempting to make decisions about the child without consulting the other, but this is often wrong. A parent who ignores a joint custody order violates the law and may be in trouble.

If your ex-spouse is disagreeable, you might be tempted to make decisions without consulting them, but this would be against court orders. If the court finds that you’re violating or ignoring the other parent’s custody rights in decision-making, you may lose your custody rights. The other parent may be awarded full legal custody or physical custody.

You May Need the Court’s Intervention

Consider hiring a Baltimore father’s rights attorney to mediate the situation to help you reach a consensus. If you and your ex-spouse are still not amicable on how to proceed, your lawyer may help you file a court hearing to have a judge decide. The lawyer will look at the facts, match them with the provisions of custody law, and determine if a court proceeding is best.

Seek Legal Help from a Dedicated Fathers’ Rights Lawyer

A divorce can be painful and can get more complex if your ex-spouse doesn’t comply with the custody order. While you may try to find ways to compromise for the sake of your child, your input may not always bear fruit. That’s where the expertise of a men’s rights attorney in Baltimore comes in to save the situation.

While you may be tempted to make decisions for your child without consulting your ex-spouse, we strongly advise you against doing so. Instead, let our experienced father’s rights attorney in Baltimore evaluate the situation and provide legal guidance on the steps you can take. We are here to protect your rights as a father. Contact us for a FREE in-depth case assessment.