Entertainment Love and Romance Parenting Disagreements What to Do When Parents Who Share Joint Legal Custody Disagree Share PINTEREST Email Print altrendo images/Altrendo/Getty Images Love and Romance Divorce Relationships Sexuality Teens LGBTQ Friendship By Debrina Washington Family law attorney and writer University of Pittsburgh School of Law Skidmore College Debrina L. Washington is a New York-based family law attorney and writer, who runs her own virtual practice to assist single parents with legal issues. our editorial process Debrina Washington Updated May 23, 2019 After separation, a court will make an initial determination on child custody. Courts will generally grant physical custody to one parent, often with visitation to the other parent, and legal custody to one or both parents. It is often the case that a court will give both parents joint legal custody. Courts differ on the exact definition of joint legal custody. Generally, joint legal custody is defined as a parent's shared right to determine how to raise a child, with specific consideration to day-to-day activities. Parents are expected to make decisions together, without the interference of a court. Joint Legal Custody Decisions Often parents must make bilateral decisions on issues such as: Choice of schools (Note: If an educational decision involves religion, a court will not intervene, as religious choice is a First Amendment Right.)Choice of doctors and medical decisions, such as whether to permit certain medical proceduresChoice of after-school activities The Benefits of Joint Legal Custody An easier adjustment for children, as joint custody allows both parents to be involved in a meaningful wayJoint legal custody includes both parents, which is especially beneficial those who wish to parent collaboratively because it encourages parents to work together The Difficulties Associated with Joint Legal Custody Parents must be able to effectively communicate and handle joint decisions involving a childParents often have different ideas about raising children, which might influence their day-to-day decisions Alternatives for Situations Where Parents Who Share Joint Legal Custody Disagree If parents cannot reach a mutual decision involving the day-to-day rearing of a child, a court will consider a few alternatives: Deferring to a neutral third-party, agreed upon by both parents, which might be a stipulation in the custody agreementCourt-ordered mediationIf both alternatives fail, a court, in its discretion, may choose to intervene In addition, matters surrounding child custody may be modified at the court’s discretion. However, courts do not want to be involved in the day-to-day decisions of raising children. Before involving a court of law in decisions involving joint legal custody, parents should first consider the best interest of the child. Then if necessary, invite a neutral third-party to assist in reaching a decision.