Written by attorney Kevin M Corr

Sole Legal Custody

Appellate courts seem to agree that "sole legal custody" is often the "correct" result, even when a well-meaning trial judge ordered shared custody in "hopes" that, over time, the parents will develop a relationship in which they become capable of effective communication and decision-making in the child's best interests. In the meantime, the child is left exposed to the very conflict that orders for sole legal custody are aimed at protecting her or him from. When credible evidence demonstrates that it would be "inappropriate" to order shared custody, a period of time in which one parent has "final decision-making authority" will provide the needed protection and may actually bring about the improved parental relationship for which that well-meaning trial judge hoped. A modification action seeking to change sole to shared legal custody would be a positive proceeding, one with evidence that the "change" is in the development of the healthier and effective pattern of communication between the parents. A modification action seeking to change shared to sole legal custody, on the other hand, will be chock full of evidence how the child continued to suffer regular exposure to the parents' dysfunction and lack of respect for one another's abilities and opinions.

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