When people talk about child custody, they usually mean where the child lives and is raised. Legally, this is known as physical child custody, but it is not the entire story.
The other aspect of child custody is who gets to make key decisions about the child’s upbringing. In New York State, this power is called legal child custody. Often, even when one parent is granted sole physical custody of the kids, the other parent retains their legal custody rights, along with visitation time.
Both parents must work together to determine matters like where the children will go to school, and what religion or blend of religions they will be raised in, if any. Another important matter that most parents want a say in is their children’s medical care.
Sometimes, disagreements over one of these issues can bring parents to court. In an example from Florida, a mother is apparently in hiding with her son because she refuses to have him circumcised, as the boy’s father wants for medical reasons.
The boy was born in 2010. In 2012, the court issued a parenting plan making the father responsible for arranging a circumcision, which normally is done when a boy is an infant.
The father did not press the matter until the following year, when he observed the boy urinating on his leg. He says the boy has a medical condition that makes circumcision a good idea. But the mother objects. Despite the 2012 parenting plan, and medical benefits associated with circumcision she says the procedure is wrong and dangerous.
In protest, the mother took the son to a domestic violence shelter in February, when it was the father’s turn for physical custody. She also failed to appear with the son at a court hearing on the matter on March 10, leading the judge to sign an arrest warrant against her.
When sharing legal custody with your child’s other parent following divorce or separation, you may have to compromise on certain matters. Negotiation may be difficult, but it is likely preferable to jail time.