What is “legal custody”?

“Legal custody” defines the decision making powers between parents. Kansas law presumes that both parents should share decision making power and, in the absence of some specific finding that the child is at risk if shared decision making is ordered, the court will order what is termed “joint legal custody.”  “Joint legal custody” does not have anything to do with the person with whom the child lives. It only has to do with decision making. The alternative is “sole legal custody” and may be ordered by the court only in those circumstances in which the court makes a specific finding that it is not in the best interest of the child that a parent have the power to participate equally in decision making regarding the child. Even if the court grants “sole legal custody,” the parent not granted sole legal custody has the right to obtain any and all information regarding the child’s health, education and welfare unless the court makes an additional specific finding that access to such information by the other parent would be harmful to the child.