Joint Legal Custody vs. Sole Legal Custody: What’s the Difference?

I sometimes get asked, “what’s the difference between joint legal custody and sole legal custody?”. Joint legal custody in Oregon is an arrangement by which parents share rights and responsibilities for a major decision concerning the child. This can include the child’s residence, education, health care, and religious training. It is also possible for the joint legal custody order to designate one parent to have sole power to make certain decisions about specific matters, but that decisions on other issues would be made jointly. Sole legal custody means that one parent has the authority to make the major decisions as outlined above. With sole custody, the child may primarily reside with one parent or share his or her time with both parents.

The Different Types of Legal Custody in Oregon

It’s important to understand that the court will have the final say when it comes to joint or sole custody. The Oregon courts do not have the power to order joint legal custody unless both parents agree to it.  If one parent disagrees with having joint legal custody, then the court will order sole legal custody to one of the parents. The court will make the decision based on what the court believes is in the child’s best interest.  Even if one parent has sole legal custody, Oregon law still provides that the non-custodial parent retains certain rights, such as the ability to consult with medical personnel, consult with teachers, and receive educational related records.

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