Joint Legal Custody

The Shenk v. Shenk is a case discusses whether the trial court had the power to award joint legal custody with the Wife has the ability to have the final decision if the parties cannot reach a major decision for the children. The citation number for this case is 159 Md. App. 548, 860 A.2d 408 (2004). This is when the Wife has final tie-breaking decision making authority in the event of a future dispute.

The parties were married in 1996, and they were three children born to the marriage. The parties separated in 2002. The Husband who graduated from high school testified he was employed with a telecommunications company having a salary of $90,000 per year. He was fired in 2001. The Husband earned over $29,000 in 2002. The Husband testified that he is not seeking another job due to the circumstances with his life. He acknowledged that he needs to look for a better paying job and trying to network through other people.

When the Husband lost his job, the Wife who has a bachelor degree in business began working 15-18 hours a week for her father’s business. Her income was $1,500.00 a month.

Both parties were good with the children. They felt the communications system improved since they started to use a notebook. The notebook helped to defuse tensions between them according to Wife’s testimony. She complained that the Husband was not on the same page on her when it comes to the children. The Wife felt that she knew what was best for the children. She valued her husband’s input, but she knew if she needs to make the decision for the children that she was able to do it better.

The Wife was the primary caretaker of the children since the beginning. She would make the decision if the parties could not agree. The parties will participate in their upbringing. Both of them are going to help make those decisions. However, you would want the input from the Husband. You will discuss those important issues with regards to your children. You will discuss them in detail. If both parties cannot agree on an informed, intelligent decision, then the Wife will make the final decision. This arrangement was incorporated into the court’s Judgment.

Such Order written by the Judge stated that if the parents cannot reach an agreement with regards to a decision, the Wife will have the final decision making authority.

Child custody started with father had preference to be granted child custody regardless of the child’s welfare. Subsequently after 1977, it was a shift to the mother. In 1929, Article 72A mandated the parents have equivalent duties and power and neither parental right is above the other.

Court of Appeals in the Taylor case stated that legal custody of a child is obligation and right to make decisions involving medical care, discipline, religious training, and education and other matters of major significance dealing with the child’s welfare and life.

The trial court determined that the parties have equal responsibilities for major decisions affecting the lives of the children. The Court considered that not discussing issues dealing with the children would be not following the orders and focused on the mother not to acting until advising with the father.

The court address that the parties not able to speak with each other, but wrote to one another. The Court was persuaded by the evidence that the parents agreed on the decisions made for the children. The critical dispute is that the father had was not that the kids attended catholic school as the Mother had decided, but whether her parents should pay for the tuition.

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