Welcome to SPARC Forums. Please login or sign up.

Apr 21, 2024, 02:26:05 PM

Login with username, password and session length

Sole vs Joint Legal - California

Started by ByrdBrain, Jan 28, 2007, 11:53:23 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Case pending in California

Separated since 2/06, three children (8, 7, 3). Temporary orders via DV/TRO hearing = joint legal; physical to Dad (90%), visitation to Mom w/ 3rd party supervision, pending mediator's report. We live in a recommending county. Dad is pro per, Mom is represented. I'M THE DAD.

Mediator recommended sole legal to Dad, with even greater restrictions on Mom's visitation. Both parents filed objections (Dad's only objection is restrictions on paternal grandmother, based on false accusations by Mom); settlement conference 2/27/07.

Dad wants sole legal custody b/c of Mom's history of using her equal authority w/joint legal to disrupt and obstruct (eg, Dad unable to enroll kids in school w/o court order b/c Mom wouldn't cooperate, etc, etc.). He plans to discuss issues w/Mom in advance of making non-emergency decisions and would attempt to make decisions jointly, but he wants the authority to cast the deciding vote if no agreement can be reached. (Mom and Dad agree on almost nothing.)

Mom says she "refuses to give up her parental rights" and insists on joint. (She also wants unlimited visitation, no 3rd party supervision, no child support.)

Dad and (apparently) Mom's attorney have not been able to convince Mom that she has no chance of getting what she wants in court, or that the mediator's recommendation will be adopted unless the parents can negotiate a compromise plan.

Mom has now proposed language which would make legal custody joint, but would also identify a "primary" legal parent and a "secondary" parent. It would further specify that the primary parent makes the final decision if/when the parents cannot agree. She says she based her proposal on a South Carolina decision, and she refuses to submit it to her own attorney for review. (!)

I have no objection to the mechanics of the proposal (it's what I already planned to do), but I can't find anything in California law which divides legal custody in this way. It seems to me that if the "primary" parent has veto power, what Mom has proposed is sole legal custody, with a statement of the process parents agree to use when making decisions affecting the children. I'm willing to accept it and call it "joint" to make her happy, if that would not create further problems down the road.

1. Can we specifically limit the authority of the parents and still call it "joint" legal custody?

2.  If not, would it be legal to put a joint decision-making process into the order when one parent has sole legal custody and, therefore, full authority to act independently?


>1. Can we specifically limit the authority of the parents and
>still call it "joint" legal custody?

You can state that (example):

"the parents have joint legal custody of the parties minor child(ren), with father having primary physical custody and mother having secondary physical custody. Father shall exercise physical custody at all times, subject only to mother's secondary custody rights as set forth in the attached parenting agreement."

>2.  If not, would it be legal to put a joint decision-making
>process into the order when one parent has sole legal custody
>and, therefore, full authority to act independently?

As a practical matter, if both parents have joint legal, then each parent can do whatever he/she wants with the kids while they are in the parent's control. But, since one parent has custody for the majority of time, anything that the secondary custodian orders can simply be voided by the primary custodian as soon as the children are returned to his/her care.

I don't know why the mother is restrained or what sort of danger she poses to the kids, but what I've described above is how it's usually done. You can always agree to something else as long as it's reasonable. But, if you intend to redefine custody for the purposes of your parenting agreement, then it must be very expressly stated so that the court will have no problem interpreting your agreement.