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What is joint legal child custody?

When parents in Kansas go through a divorce, child custody and visitation issues can be some of the most complex emotional as well as practical things to address. Because both parents value their relationship with their children even though their personal romantic relationship has come to an end, child custody issues can highlight the changing nature of the family relationships. Understanding the terminology used can help both parents learn more about the process and envision their future obligations and rights.

For example, joint legal custody is a term often used to describe a common situation: Both parents have the right to make decisions for the child about important issues like religion, education and medical care. Legal custody is not the same thing as physical child custody, however. In many cases, one parent may have primary physical custody while the two parents share joint legal custody.

There are positive aspects to joint legal custody that can help parents and children transition to their post-divorce relationship. Parents with joint legal custody must communicate about important issues, posing the potential of an improved co-parenting relationship that is beneficial to their child. In addition, parents can help support one another and develop joint decisions when more difficult issues arise in later years.

However, joint legal custody can also have its own difficulties. Some parents may find it very difficult to collaborate on important decisions, or one parent may be unresponsive or obstructionist.

Parents who are going through a divorce may be confused and uncertain about their future time with their children. A family law attorney may work with a divorcing parent toward their goals for child custody, child support and other key divorce issues. A lawyer may be able to represent a parent's interests in family court and help protect their relationship and involvement with their children.

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