What is legal custody?
The term “legal custody” refers to which parent has the primary responsibility and authority to make major decisions about the child’s life including, but not limited to, eduction, health care and religion. There are two types of legal custody:
- "Sole legal custody" refers to when one parent has these rights.
- "Joint legal custody” is when both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for these major decisions concerning the child.1
Joint legal custody involves the parents communicating with each other and compromising on decisions about the child. Therefore, this is usually not a good solution for victims of domestic violence since the abuser usually has power and control over the victim and it might not be safe for the victim to disagree with the abuser. If the victim cannot have equal input and power in the relationship, the decisions about the child that are supposed to be made jointly are often made by the abuser alone. Similarly, shared or joint physical custody could also be dangerous where there is domestic violence.
1 Alabama Code § 30-3-151