Divorced or separated parents in Massachusetts may be awarded physical and/or legal custody or their children. Physical custody refers to the person with whom a child will live, while legal custody deals with life decisions affecting a child’s welfare. Even if a parent is not granted physical custody of his or her children, he or she may be awarded some level of legal custody — except in cases where abuse or addiction is an issue. Joint legal custody can be a good thing and actually is preferred in most states, but what happens when a legal custody dispute occurs?

If joint legal custody is granted, both parents will share the responsibility of making decisions regarding the welfare and raising of their child. These include matters involving health care, religion, schooling and extra curricular activities – among various others. Unfortunately, disagreements will happen. How disagreements are handled is what matters.

There are those who will be able to come to agreeable terms by negotiating. There are also those who will just not see eye to eye on the issue at hand. When that happens, one parent may make a decision on his or her own. The parent who has been left out of the decision making process does have the right to take legal action which could result in the offending parent being held in contempt of court.

Working with one’s former spouse or partner to make significant decisions for a child can be a challenge. It requires good communication skills and patience. Unfortunately, a legal custody dispute may still arise that is difficult to resolve. Parents in Massachusetts who are struggling to make their legal custody arrangements work can turn to an experienced family law attorney to find a way to address the matter and, if necessary, seek modifications to the existing custody order.

Source: FindLaw, “Legal Custody“, Accessed on April 19, 2017