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Orange County Family Law Attorney

What Are My Rights If I Have Joint Legal Custody in My Orange County Child Custody Case?

Joint legal Custody means that both parents share the right and responsibility to make the decisions concerning the health, education and welfare of the child (Family Code 3003). In making an order for custody concerning both parents, the court may grant joint legal custody without granting joint physical custody (Family Code Section 3085).

Family Code Section 3003 does not spell out any details of exactly what “Joint Legal Custody” entails, and so it is highly advisable that any court orders in your case include a detailed listing of the specific rights and responsibility of both parties as they pertain to legal custody. The specified rights and responsibilities include the following provisions:

1. The parents must confer in making decisions on the following matters:

  • Enrollment in or leaving a particular public or private school or daycare center.
  • Participating in particular religious activities or institutions.
  • Beginning or ending of psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy.
  • Selection of a doctor, dentist, or other health professional (except in emergency situations).
  • Participation in extracurricular activities.
  • Out-of-country or Out-of state travel.

2. The parent who has the physical care of the children at any given time shall have the routine decision-making rights and responsibilities during these periods of time; however, all major decisions pertaining to health, education and daycare shall be made jointly by the parents. No prior consultation is required between the parents regarding emergency medical or dental treatment, routine checkups, or minor illness. However, the other parent shall be notified immediately in the case of an emergency. A sharing of routine health information is encouraged.

3. In the event that controversy arises regarding major medical decisions, both parents shall first consult together and if no resolution is reached, meet and confer with an expert in the field related to the dispute, e.g. the child’s doctor, teacher, counselor, etc. If the consultation does not resolve the dispute, the parents shall return together to Mediation at the courthouse in an attempt to reach an agreement. Finally, if the dispute continues, if shall be submitted to the Court for a decision, and until then, the existing orders shall remain in effect.

4. Neither parent shall enroll the children in activities that require a commitment from the other parent or interfere with a previously agreed upon Court-ordered schedule without mutual approval. Parents are encouraged to attend their children’s activities. Parents are responsible for keeping themselves advised and for advising each other of all school, athletic, and social events in which the children participate.

5. Pursuant to Family Law Code Section 3025, both parents shall have the same access to psychological, medical, dental and school records pertaining to their children and shall be permitted independently to consult with any and all concerned professionals. The names of both parents shall be listed on school and extracurricular cards to be contacted in case of an emergency.

6. Each parent shall notify the other of the name, address, and telephone number of each health practitioner who examines or threats the children; such notification to be made within one day of the commencement of the first such treatment or examination.

7. Neither parent shall submit the child to any psychological/psychiatric testing or evaluation or to any extended course of medical, dental, orthodontic, psychiatric or psychological treatment/counseling without first obtaining the consent of the other parent.

8. Both parents are required to administer any prescribed medications for the children.

9. Each parent shall be entitled to reasonable telephone communication with the children at reasonable hours. Each parent shall not interfere with the children’s right to privacy during such telephone conversations.

10. Neither party shall change the surname of the children or cause surnames to be changed on medical, dental, school, DMV records or other legal documents without the consent of the other parent or order of the court.

11. Either party may travel out of the state of California with the minor children.

12. Should either parent move from their current residence, they shall advise the other parent of their now address and telephone number with two days prior to the move.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Orange County divorce attorney Gerald Maggio of The Maggio Law Firm, by visiting or calling (949) 553-0304.

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