"Standard" Custody Provisions

What are the “standard joint legal custody provisions” for NC? Cumberland County? I have a temporary custody order that states that but it looks like there is no “standard” provisions.

(My attorney is no longer practicing and can’t be reached to explain it to me).

There are no standard custody provisions by statute in North Carolina. Legal custody refers to decisions making. If parents have joint legal custody then both must agree to on major decisions (i.e., religion, medical care, school, etc.). Each parent has the right to make day-to-day decisions on their own custodial time, but joint legal custody requires the parents to agree before making any major decisions related to the child.

Thank you for answering.

If the parents with joint legal custody don’t agree on a matter, does it default to “no”? Is there any penalty for disregarding the legal rights of the other parent?

Example A: My wife and I have joint legal custody of our two sons (four and three) but she has temporary physical custody and living in another state while we work out our final order. She’s now taking them to church for the first time, and never discussed it with me. Do I have any say in this?

Example B) My wife does not volunteer medical information about our children unless she needs co-payment. Last fall she took our four year old to the ER for an abscess in his mouth that ended up being six cavities requiring multiple teeth to be removed and a root canal. She first contacted me about it a week after the ER visit to let me know she needed me to pay for half of a $1,500 dental co-pay bill. Is this a violation of anything?

Example C) Our four year old seems much angrier since his mother and I seperated and she’s been coaching him to say things like “Dada kicked us out of our house” and “Dada doesn’t love Mama because she’s fat so we don’t live there anymore”. I’d like to get him into therapy with a mental health professional, but she doesn’t agree to it.

Do I have any recourse in these situations? Joint Legal Custody seems meaningless in the face of whomever has the child making whatever decisions they want regardless of what the non-custodial parent wants.

Joint legal custody means the parents have equal decision-making abilities. If the parents do not agree on legal custody issues (healthcare, schooling, religion, etc.), then they may need to return to court or mediation to clarify legal custody or to clarify what happens if the parents do not agree. Check your order and make sure it does not already specify what will happen in the event the parents disagree.

A: Since you have joint legal custody pursuant to a court order, then yes, you have equal say in your children’s religious upbringing.

B: You also have equal say in your children’s medical care for the same reason as “A,” however, depending on the exact language of your order, she may have been able to authorize emergency medical care. Sometimes court orders will specify what a parent must do, and give deadlines, to notify the other parent of emergency medical treatment of a child.

C: If she doesn’t agree to therapy for the minor child, you may have to return to court or mediation to have “joint legal custody” clarified.