Joint legal custody in Connecticut is about decision making. Ordinarily, it gives both parents equal rights to make major decisions for their children. This is the usual arrangement but there are instances when joint legal custody is not in the child’s best interest. For example, if a parent has a history of using poor judgement or other circumstances where it is apparent that the parents will not be able to make decisions together.
So what is a “major” decision? Joint legal custody decisions are those issues concerning health, education and religious upbringing. A parent with sole custody makes these decisions without the need to consult with the other parent.
But not every decision needs to be made together between the parents. Routine, day to day decisions, are made by the parent with whom the child is with at that time. For example, discipline, diet, bedtime and the child’s activities for that day are not considered part of legal custody.
In some instances, parents can agree to list in their Parenting Plan other decisions that they believe require joint consultation.
There are variations on legal custody. Sometimes the parents are equal footing and neither can take unilateral action. Other times, the parents must consult but one parent is granted the authority to make the final decision on the issue. Still other times, one parent might be given decision making on one issue like education but the other parent makes medical decisions for the child.
Regardless of the specific joint custody arrangement, either parent is permitted to make emergency decisions for a child. For example, when the child is injured and requires hospitalization.
I represent clients with joint custody issues throughout Fairfield County including Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Trumbull, Stratford, Bridgeport, Westport, Weston, New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.