When a couple goes through a divorce, and there are children involved, legal custody will be addressed in court. The state of California prefers to assign joint legal custody. However, there are times when that is not in the best interest of the child.

What Is Legal Custody?

When a parent (or parents) have legal custody of a child, they make decisions and choices for the child. This is their legal right and their legal responsibility. Some of the choices you will make on behalf of your child include:

•  Where they will be educated
• What religion (if any) they will be taught
• Where they will live
• How they will be disciplined
• Who they will associate with

You will be expected and obligated to make the choices that allow your child to grow up healthy and happy.

Joint Custody

Children need both parents in their lives. If both parents are responsible adults, the court will usually award joint custody. Just like in a marriage, both parents make the decisions regarding the child together. Visitation details will already be spelled out in the divorce papers.

Having a good relationship with your child’s other parent makes life easier for the entire family. Things happen in life that we cannot control. Perhaps it is your weekend to have the children, and you suddenly find out that your employer is sending you out of state for an important assignment. You should be able to work that out with your ex. It benefits no one if your ex-loses his or her job. Besides, it is guaranteed that eventually, the shoe will be on the other foot. At some point, you will have to attend something important and you will need the cooperation of your ex to back you up.

In a joint custody family, parents decide together what is best for the child. They behave like adults and put any anger they have with each other to rest, so their child will have a happy life.

What Happens If One Party Doesn’t Cooperate?

Your divorce papers spell out what is expected of you. But, it goes without saying that you are expected to do your part. If your ex-leaves you out of the decision-making issues or refuses to communicate with you about important matters, or they are abusive (physically or emotionally), you have to do something. You can take them back to court and ask the judge to enforce the original order with the help of a child custody and visitation attorney.

If you have reason to believe that this situation will not improve, you can ask the court to give you sole custody of the child. Before you go before the judge, remember this is not about you. It is about the pain and frustration it is causing your child. You may want your child custody and visitation lawyer to handle this.

Raising a child to be a well-balanced adult, with good core values, and ethics is difficult. It is difficult when you are raising them with a present partner. But, co-parenting with a person who does not live with you is even harder. You can do this if you keep the lines of communication open, and each of you thinks of the child first.