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Legal Custody – Joint Custody in Frederick Maryland

Legal Custody vs Physical Custody in Frederick Maryland

I sometimes liken the difference between legal and physical custody to
the ownership of a car. If you buy a nice new car and finance the
vehicle, you can be said to have the “physical custody” of that car.

The “legal custody” of the car is it’s title.
You are on that title as an owner, but so is the finance company.

Day in and day out you make physical decisions about the car. Without the need to consult with the finance company. Some not so important, like what kind of gasoline you use and some more important like changes to its engine or its appearance.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day however you must get the joint agreement of the finance company to sell the car or make other major decisions which effect the car.

While enjoying a great deal of autonomy in physical considerations for your child, the person with joint legal custody does not have the final say in issues of religion, education and medical care.

While joint legal custody is a great privilege and a serious responsibility in practical life, it may not be as easy to apply and define. Take for example, a boy who is in the joint legal custody of both parents.

While on vacation with his father in Disney World, the boy breaks a finger:

  1. Father took the boy out of State and did not get the Mother’s permission
  2. The father was allowed to pick whatever doctor or hospital for treatment in Florida and to decide such questions as stitches, etc.

While these parents stood on equal legal footing and had joint legal custody, none of the issues required agreement of the parents, even in these serious circumstances. Now for example, consider a girl who is

in the joint custody of her parents. She is at the mall with her mother and wants to get her ears pierced. The mother is required to get the agreement of Father before she gets her daughter’s earspierced.

I use these examples to demonstrate as follows: If you believe that the most important issue in the foregoing examples are what each parent was required to do, then you are not good candidates for joint
legal custody. Parents who are a good fit for legal custody do not just communicate about the required circumstances.

Joint custody parents believe they should communicate (no matter how briefly) in reaching a shared and mutual decision of what is best for the children.

My opinion should not be taken to mean that parents who have joint custody need to be friends or even to like each other. It means that if communicating and attempting to reach a mutual decision comes naturally in spite of any animosity you feel toward the other parent, then you are good candidates for joint legal custody.

The last issue about joint legal custody is its “catch-22″ quality. If you do not agree that you should have joint legal custody, the judge cannot order joint legal custody. The idea is that by leaving it to a judge to decide means you cannot have it because if you could have it, you would not be fighting about it in the first place.

Legal Custody Frederick Maryland


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The Custody Place

322 West Patrick Street #201