What Joint Custody is Not
Joint legal custody in my experience, when it works, is a painless process almost like breathing. You think about it when you need to but most of the time you don’t even think about it. Let’s review each area of legal custody and see just how narrow legal custody issues can be.
Religious upbringing. It’s a sad fact that many of the bloodiest wars have been waged in the name of religion. This is likewise true in the area of religious upbringing, as it relates to joint legal custody.
People with little or no religious orientation virtually never have disagreements in this area for obvious reasons. In cases where one parent has a stronger religious orientation than the other, there are rarely problems. While religious upbringing is important to one parent, it is not a “hill to die on” for the other parent.
The problems in this area tend to emerge where two parents religious orientation: are strongly divergent from one another. Take for example Muslims vs Christians, born again Christians vs Satanist, that sort of thing. When this happens I am often convinced that one parent’s conviction in favor of the religion in question is made all the more so if it enrages the other parent.
In my experience, rarely has a true dispute as to educational issues arisen in the strictest of contexts. When disputes regarding education do emerge, they are almost always linked to the medical and/or religious tenets of legal custody.
Take for example the ubiquitous ADHD issue. Sending the child in question to a private school and/or treating the condition with medication are potential solutions to the problem where parents disagree. To that extent, I do not see it as a purely educational dispute.
Occasionally there is a disagreement about private school. Yet that is almost universally resolved by a simple principal. Whomever believes private school is important, must be prepared to pay for same.
Medical issues. This is definitely the area of legal custody which is most commonly a source of contention. Yet the subject truly includes more heat than light when we identify how narrowly the medical issues present themselves.
If the child gets sick or injured while with either parent he or she may take immediate action irrespective of that parents legal custody status. Consequently, It seems to me that the only significant medical issues which need to be broached in a joint legal custody arrangement for a healthy child are braces and ADHD.
I have had several other chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, be a subject of dispute in the legal custody context. However, parents are usually of like mind on those types of conditions. Typically both parents want the best possible care they can afford and the most aggressive approach to treatment that the medical professionals recommend.
Tim Conlon, Esquire for The Custody Place
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