Without all the legalese that goes with it, the Rhode Island Family law principle of Joint Legal Custody refers to the legal right of parents to make major decisions regarding their minor children.
In Rhode Island Family law cases joint legal custody is usually the norm. Joint legal custody means in principle that both the father and the mother of a minor child each have equal decision making authority when it comes to major issues affecting their minor child's life. It wouldn't be too out of line to say that on major decisions affecting are minor child's life the father has a 50% say and the mother has a 50% say.
Keep in mind that we are talking about MAJOR decisions here. What are MAJOR decisions? Our Rhode Island Supreme Court has narrowed them into four (4) types or categories, namely Health, Education, Religion and those major things in life that affect the GENERAL WELL-BEING of the minor child.
Examples aren't too hard to identify. It is easily a major Health decision for a minor child if the child is struck by a car and a decision must be made about what is best for the child if two methods of proceeding with an emergency surgery are proposed by opposing surgeons.
In the area of education, a frequent Rhode Island family law decision Rhode Island courts must often address is the difference of opinion between whether a child should go to private school or remain in public school.
Religious preferences for children are frequently a subject to debate when the father may want the children to be raised in the Mormon tradition but the mother wants the children raised as Roman Catholics.
The last category referred to as the GENERAL WELL-BEING of the minor child attaches to anything that has a major affect on a minor child's life but does not fall into the other categories. One example of this might be the minor child's participation in a sport or activity that the mother and father disagree upon such as a cliff diving for a child who is only an avid swimmer. The father may believe it to be a good thing that the minor child conquer a fear of heights and swimming by such an activity. Yet the mother might learn that this is not a professionally trained group who know what they are doing but rather a group of kids who merely put together a cliff diving club they put together for popularity rather than with proper training or supervision.
Now that your understand Rhode Island Legal Custody fundamentals, doesn't it make sense that a father and mother should share equally in the decision-making process for these major decisions?
When there is a tie and the parents can't agree, you proceed to Rhode Island Family Court and if you don't reach agreement or come to a compromise the Family Court Judge makes the decision to break that "tie" to do what is in the best interests of the minor child.
When is joint legal custody? When should one parent be awarded sole legal custody? If you are in a divorce and you agree to joint legal custody in a friendly / nominal divorce hearing, the judge just approves the parties' agreement, right?
The answers may surprise you! The next article will be published soon. Stay tuned. Information is the most important thing you can have in any Rhode Island family law matter.
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