I have joint legal custody of my minor child and would like to know how to enforce a legal custody violation.
My ex-wife enrolled our child in a new school district without notifying me or listing me as our child's father with the school registry.
Education decisions should be a joint decision since we share legal custody so if our divorce decree is being violated, what are my legal options to have it enforced?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Maryland divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
"Joint legal custody" means that the parents share the decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of the child.
Generally, I explain to my clients that legal custody involves the ability to make major life decisions regarding the child. Examples of these decisions include where the child will go to school, if the child will undergo a particular medical procedure (with the exception of emergency procedures) and in what religion, if any, the child will be raised.
Legal custody does not include smaller decisions regarding the child's day-to-day care, such as what the child eats for dinner, for example. Parties with joint legal custody should be consulting with one another and making major decisions together.
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Because you have joint legal custody, you should make third parties aware of this fact. Contact your child's school, teachers, medical providers, daycare provider, etc., and advise them that you have joint legal custody, would like to be listed as an emergency contact, would like to receive e-mails and notices from school, etc.
Be prepared to provide these third parties with a copy of the divorce judgment/order stating that you have joint legal custody. Your wife probably does not have an affirmative obligation to ensure that you are notified of school events, list you as an emergency contact, etc., but she cannot preclude you from getting involved at your child's school, communicating with your child teachers or accessing any information regarding your kids.
If your wife unilaterally made this decision to enroll your child in a new school after you and she were awarded joint legal custody, she violated a court order.
If your wife violates the joint legal custody order, you can file a pleading indicating that she is in contempt of court (often called a Petition for Contempt) for failure to comply with a court order.
You will then have the opportunity to advise the court of your wife’s violation(s), and the court can issue certain relief in accordance with the divorce laws of your state.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.
Cordell & Cordell has men's divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Maryland Divorce Lawyer Sara L. Schwartzman, please contact Cordell & Cordell.