Legal Custody Question


Four days away from our hearing and my ex suddenly wants to settle out of court!

I have a question about terminology though.

My current order states I have primary custody. Ex wants new order to say joint legal custody.

My attorney said there would be language that states if we cannot agree, then I make final decision. Isn’t that what primary legal custody is anyway?

Am I missing something here?


Go with your attorney on this one. My ex wanted joint legal custody as well. Our papers say we have to discuss things but if we can’t come to a decision then I have final decision making power.

Essentially yes, you still get to decide if you can’t agree but you still have to discuss and you still have to make an effort for compromise.


Yes, the verbiage doesn’t really mean anything, other than making your ex feel better about the situation. So long as you have final decision making power, you truly are the decision maker.


The terms are what your agreement makes them mean. You can have joint legal custody with you having the majority vote. You can have joint physical custody with one parent having primary legal custody, or have joint legal and physical custody, equal time and parents must agree to major decisions based on what best fits the needs of the child.

If your ex wants the agreement to say joint legal, which NC defaults to anyway, then he’s only wanting to protect his right to have a say in the medical, legal, educational, and religious needs of the child. The statement of primary custody for you should probably state clearly that it is primary physical custody…