Joint Custody Means You Have a Joint Legal Say in Big Decisions for Your Kid
Video Transcribed: What is joint custody in Oklahoma? My name is James Wirth and I am a Family law attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and we’re talking about the types of custody and specifically joint custody. So what does joint custody mean?
So, first off, we want to separate that we’re talking about legal custody. When we talk about sole custody, joint custody, we’re referring to legal custody, not physical custody. It’s important to separate those two.
Physical custody is where’s the child when, who is the child with. You’ve got a physical custody schedule or a visitation schedule, that’s all physical custody. But generally, when we’re talking about sole custody, joint custody, we’re talking about legal custody.
And legal custody means who gets to make the big legal decisions for this child or children. And if it’s a joint custody order, then you need to have a joint child custody plan in place, and you guys have to work together to make decisions based on the terms of that joint child custody plan.
And depending on what the judge ordered, what you guys agreed upon, you can have a lot of different terms, defining exactly how decisions are made, and that needs to be part of the joint child custody order. But generally speaking, when you have joint custody, it means that you have a joint legal say in the big decisions for the child.
Those big decisions are going to be where the child goes to school, elective medical procedures, extracurricular activities, what church the child attends and is a member of, those are the big legal decisions that are made by the custodian.
And if it’s joint custody, that means you guys have to decide that jointly, which means that you need to meet together, discuss it and come up with a joint decision. If you guys cannot reach an agreement, that’s problematic because you can’t make decisions unless both of you are onboard.
So if that happens, then pursuant to the terms of whatever orders you have in place, that may require you to go to mediation or parenting coordinator, or you may be required to go back to court so that the judge can decide.
Anytime you guys can’t mutually decide, you might need that tiebreaker vote, and you might have to go to court for that. So in order to avoid those situations, a lot of times you have joint child custody plans that are very specific on how decisions are made or provide for you to go to a third party separate from the court to break those ties so you can save time and money for that.
But to answer the main question, what is joint custody? It means that you guys both have legal custody in making the big decisions pursuant to the terms in your joint child custody plan, which frequently means that both of you have to be on board to make a decision.
And if you can’t agree, then you have to go to a third party, whether it’s a parenting coordinator or the court, to make that decision. If you’ve got questions on how this applies to your circumstances, you’re going to want a confidential sit-down with an attorney to consult. And for that, you can go to makelaweasy.com to speak with an Oklahoma Family Law Attorney.