Most people undergoing a divorce or child custody case are familiar with the term joint legal custody. What is more confusing, however, is what joint legal custody means in the context of real life situations. Joint legal custody essentially means who is making the major decisions for a child.
Major decisions are five main areas: religion, health care, schooling, residence and recreational activities. Thus, if your child is Christian, the other parent cannot baptize them or convert the child to Muslim without the consent or approval of the other parent. Likewise, if the child has been playing baseball, the parents must agree that the child will switch to basketball. Parents cannot change schools, residence or doctors without the approval of the other parent when the parties share joint legal custody.
In New Mexico, joint legal custody is the presumption under the law. If one of the parents wish to have sole legal custody then there must be some exigent circumstances that would warrant switching beyond the presumptive joint legal custody situation. Circumstances such as physical or sexual abuse, long distances or domestic violence all play into the consideration of the court when establishing joint legal custody.