What options are there for legal custody?
There are 2 options for legal custody: sole legal custody or joint legal custody.
A judge may give you or the other parent sole legal custody. A parent with sole legal custody has the right to make major decisions about the child, while the other parent does not have that right. If you have sole legal custody, you get to make decisions about things like the child’s education, healthcare and religion.
A judge may also give you joint legal custody with the other parent. In this case, both you and the other parent would share the same rights and responsibilities to make the major decisions affecting your child's life. This means that both parents get to decide things like where your child goes to school, what kind of religious training your child receives, and whether your child needs surgery. Often times in domestic violence situations, this is not a good option because it requires you and the abuser to talk, negotiate, and agree on decisions.
It is possible that both parents can have joint legal custody while only one parent has physical custody. This means that the child lives with one parent, but both parents make the major decisions about the child's welfare.