I have discussed two types of legal custody. Recall that legal custody means which parent makes major decisions relating to the children. There is sole legal custody in which one parent makes major decisions relating to the children and the other parent has no input into the decision. Then, there is joint legal custody where both parents must make major decisions relating to the children together and one parent cannot make the decision on his or her own.
There are other types of legal custody which are employed as well as sole and joint legal custody.
Another type of legal custody is where the parents must discuss the decision before the decision is resolved. In the event that the parties disagree and cannot make the decision together, then the parties go to a co-parent counselor or child psychologist to discuss the issue. The parties can also go to a professional in the field involving the decision. For example, if the issue is whether the child should attend one school or another, the parties can go to an educational expert who can help the parties reach an agreement. Under this type of legal custody, if the parties are still unable to reach an agreement, they can take the matter to Court for the judge to decide. The parties can also agree before seeking the help of the professional that the professional’s opinion would be admissible in any court proceeding on the issue. This is a good way of settling the matter and avoiding taking the issue to court. If the parties know how the expert would testify on the issue in court, and that the court will give deference to the expert’s opinion, then the parties know in advance how the court will probably rule. Knowing how the court will probably rule will give the party who opposes the expert’s opinion knowledge that the court will probably rule against his or her position, and therefore litigating the matter will be costly and the likelihood of success is low.
If parties cannot agree on an important decision, rather than going to court, the expert can also be used as an arbitrator. The expert can make the decision. However, the court always has jurisdiction over children so an arbitrator’s decision can always be overturned by the Court.