What does “joint legal custody” mean?

Joint legal custody usually means that the parents must: 

  1. have equal access to health, educational and legal information about each child;
  2. be listed as “parent” on the school enrollment forms, emergency cards, etc.;
  3. keep each other appraised of any child’s affiliation with a church, religious or spiritual group or of a parent’s intent to affiliate a child with a church, religious or spiritual group; and
  4. come to joint decisions on:
    1. response to life-threatening health conditions or health conditions that threaten a long-term negative effect on a child’s quality of life;
    2. major elective surgeries;
    3. body-piercing;
    4. drug therapy;
    5. emotional, behavioral, or mental health treatment or assessment;
    6. major changes in the religious, oral, or philosophical values being taught to the child;
    7. change in the type of schooling (e.g., public to private) and/or daycare;
    8. skipping one or more academic grades;

Joint legal custody would normally entitle each party to receive timely copies of the child’s report cards and current school photographs.

It would entitle parties to be informed of parent/teacher conferences and activities (including sports) and/or school programs to which the children and parents are invited to attend. 

Note: MCLA 722.30 provides as follows:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a parent shall not be denied access to records or information concerning his or her child because the parent is not the child's custodial parent, unless the parent is prohibited form having access to the records or information by a protective order. As used in this section, "records or information" includes, but is not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, day care providers records, and notification of meetings regarding the child's education.

Accordingly, a parent does not need to have joint or sole legal custody to have access to school and health records.