December 9, 2013 By Paul Wallin

In certain situations when the parents of a child cannot communicate with each other and reach joint decisions, or where the parents are living far apart as to make joint decisions impractical, the court may award sole legal custody to one parent. That parent then has both the right and responsibility of making decisions that affect the health, welfare, religion and education of the child.

The parent with sole legal custody will decide:

  • Which school the child will attend;
  • What medical professionals the child will visit;
  • What religious education the child will receive;
  • What extracurricular activities the child will participate in;
  • What duties and responsibilities the child will be required to perform within the family home;
  • As well as all other decisions that impact the welfare of the child. The ability to make such decisions is only limited by choices that would place an unfair burden on the other parent’s financial resources.


What if I Do Not Have Legal Custody?

sole legal custody
In certain situations, the court may award sole legal custody of a child to one parent. It is important to hire an experienced family law attorney who can help you avoid losing your custodial rights.

The fact that one parent has been given sole legal custody does not mean that the other parent (the “noncustodial” parent”) has no rights at all. The parent who does not have legal custody is still entitled to copies of the child’s medical records. He or she is entitled to get copies of school records and notices of school activities, as well as to participate in Parent-Teacher conferences.

Unless restricted by court order or an agreement, while the child is in the physical custody of the noncustodial parent, that parent may:

  • Take or pick up the child from school;
  • Take the child to athletic or cultural events;
  • Visit with friends and family; or go on a vacation with the child. However, only the parent with legal custody has the right to obtain a passport for the child.

If the noncustodial parent wants to take the child out of the country, the parent with legal custody must consent and provide the passport. Airports will often require proof that permission to travel overseas with a child has been granted.

Cooperation Required in Scheduling Activities in Sole Legal Custody

All too often, the parent with sole legal custody will schedule activities for the child that conflict with the visitation schedule for the other parent. These activities include:

  • Attending birthday parties, dance or tennis lessons, sleepovers with friends, Boy Scout or Girl Scout activities;
  • Visits with cousins, aunts, uncles or grandparents; or
  • Special trips to a museum, zoo, or park.

The noncustodial parent has the right to plan different activities and not comply with the activities scheduled without consent. However, both parents are required to work together with an eye toward what is in the best interest of the child in deciding the child’s activities. This includes promoting the relationship between the child and the parent as well as working with the child’s desires and expectations.

Let Wallin & Klarich Help You Make a Difference in Your Case

The lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully representing clients facing child custody and visitation matters. We possess the knowledge of the law and the attention to detail necessary to help you obtain the best possible result in your case. With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Ventura, West Covina, and San Diego, our team of professional child custody attorneys will be there when you call.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428. We will get through this together.

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