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Reasons to seek joint legal custody and possible drawbacks

Pennsylvania parents who are getting a divorce will need to reach an agreement regarding child custody, which includes legal as well as physical custody. Legal custody refers to which parent is able to make decisions about major aspects of the child's life, such as religion, education and health care. Legal custody may be joint even if physical custody is not shared.

There are pros and cons to sharing legal custody. One advantage is that a person may appreciate having the input of his or her child's other parent when making some decisions. Joint legal custody might be positive even if parents are experiencing a lot of conflict. It can be good for children to see their parents work through this conflict and make compromises with one another.

However, giving parents joint legal custody does not guarantee that this kind of resolution will be possible. Even when they are both working hard at cooperating in good faith, this does not mean they will be able to agree. There might also be situations in which having to consult one another is not practical. Some individuals may also feel that their exes are using joint custody as a way to manipulate the situation. Finally, joint legal custody will not work well if one parent is irresponsible and difficult to contact.

Parents might decide to share physical or joint custody, or a judge may make that decision. In either case, parents should make a sincere effort to co-parent. They might be able to avoid some conflict by creating a detailed parenting plan during the divorce, which can address areas of possible conflict and set consistent expectations for both households. If parents are genuinely unable to resolve conflicts that arise around joint physical or legal custody, they might have to return to court and ask for a modification.

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