Under Pennsylvania law, “legal custody” is defined as: “The right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions.” “Sole legal custody” is defined as: “The right of one individual to exclusive legal custody of the child.” “Shared legal custody” is defined as: “The right of more than one individual to legal custody of the child.” In 1993, the state Superior Court decided the case of Hill v. Hill, 619 A.2d 1086 (Pa. Super. 1993). In Hill, the Superior Court found an abuse of discretion by the trial court when it awarded shared legal custody and provided:  “In the event of disagreement, the mother’s preference shall prevail.” In that case, the father argued that the trial court essentially granted the mother sole legal custody. The Superior Court held that the father was given shared legal custody “in name only and deprived him of a legal remedy because he was already awarded ‘shared legal custody.’” The Superior Court further in Hill stated: “The concept of shared legal custody did not contain the principle of giving one parent final authority in the event of a dispute.”

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Sole Legal Custodian's Decision Cannot Be Challenged by Other Parent (PDF)

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