Recent Court Decision Regarding Legal Custody and Tie-Breaking Provisions

In a recent decision, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that a court may under appropriate circumstances grant joint legal custody to parents who cannot effectively communicate together regarding matters involving their children. In deciding Santo v. Santo, the court reasoned that “the power of the court is very broad so that it may accomplish the paramount purpose of securing the welfare and promoting the best interest of the child. ”

The court defined joint legal custody as “both parents having an equal voice in making long range decisions of major significance concerning a child’s life and welfare, with neither parent having superior rights.”

In certain circumstances, one parent will be given “specific tie-breaking authority when the parents are unable to agree after a good faith attempt by the parties to communicate.”

Although the evidence demonstrated that the parents in the Santo case could not effectively communicate with one another, the court held that the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in awarding the parents joint legal custody with one parent having tie-breaking authority.

Santo v. Santo, decided by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, July 11, 2016

http://www.mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2016/89a15.pdf

Prior to pursuing a child custody matter in court, you should seek the advice of an attorney experienced in handling contested custody matters.

The Law Office of Lynndolyn Mitchell represents clients in contested child custody, modificaiton of child custody, and child support cases.

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