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Joint legal custody and shared decision-making after divorce

Many Maryland parents considering divorce may find that dealing with child custody can be the most difficult part of separating. While both parents may love their children deeply, ending the marital relationship could mean less family time. By developing a custody agreement that works for everyone, divorcing families can establish stability.

Many family courts prefer various forms of joint custody in cases where there is no neglect or abuse. When going through a divorce, it's important for parents to understand the difference between joint legal and physical custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents have the right to make big choices about education, religion and health care for the child. However, it does not necessarily mean that they share equal physical time with the child. A court may grant joint legal child custody while still deciding that one parent should have primary physical custody and the other visitation time.

There are a number of benefits to joint legal custody. It can help to establish a supportive, collaborative environment that could become increasingly important as children become teens. However, there can also be downsides to joint legal custody. For example, sometimes it is not practical to consult the other parent before making an urgent decision. Furthermore, it can be difficult to collaborate on major decisions while living separate lives.

For many couples, joint legal custody can be a positive element that helps to ensure that both parents' rights and involvement with their children are respected. Of course, this situation is not appropriate for every family. A family law attorney can work with a divorcing parent to advocate for their rights and relationship.

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