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Why joint legal custody may be the right choice for some parents

When parents in Charlotte get a divorce, they might share legal custody even if they do not split physical custody. Legal custody gives parents the right to make decisions about important issues in their children's lives, such as schooling, religion and health care.

Sharing legal custody can have a number of advantages. Some of the decisions that need to be made can be daunting, and parents may appreciate being able to talk them over with one another. However, legal custody does require that parents find a way to communicate effectively on major issues. Sharing legal custody can force people to work out a way to make this communication work, and it can be good for their children to see them resolving their differences and reaching workable solutions.

On the other hand, even if a court decrees joint legal custody, this still cannot force a disagreeable parent to cooperate. Some individuals might use joint legal custody to try to manipulate their exes into doing what they want. If one person is unreliable or simply checks out from being a parent from time to time, this can cause problems. There may also be times when it is not practical to consult the other parent before making a decision.

Parents who are negotiating custody issues in a divorce may want to weigh these considerations. It is important for people to enter these negotiations in the spirit of putting the best interests of their children first. This may mean that someone who knows he or she might be difficult to reach or otherwise unsuitable for sharing legal custody might want to relinquish it to the other parent. It is still possible for that parent to be an active presence in his or her child's life without legal custody but with visitation rights. If parents have a child custody agreement that is not working, they may also be able to return to court for a modification.

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