What Is Legal Custody: The Legal Custody Notebook

By Molly Murphy

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Note: Part 1 explained legal custody and the several different areas it covers. Click here to read.

For some parents, requests for communication are almost impossible. If you and your spouse cannot deal with each other amicably, the court system has come up with a unique idea to guide parents through joint legal custody without verbal communication. This idea is implemented by a legal custody notebook.

With a legal custody notebook, the parties shall exchange legal custody information on the following basis: for all emergency or immediate legal custody issues which need to be communicated between the parties (all occurrences, appointments, events, etc., which will occur prior to the next scheduled custody exchange) shall be immediately communicated to the other party as soon as possible by telephone.

The mother and father shall each own and have available to the other party a cell phone number so that the parties may call each other regarding immediate legal custody issues. For all non-emergency or non-immediate legal custody issues which will occur after the next custody exchange, the parties shall keep a legal custody notebook which will be passed back and forth between the parties at all custody exchanges and which will be updated for each custody period. The legal custody notebook will contain each current month and the three (3) months prior.

Both parties shall make a copy of all medical documents regarding the minor children or medical bills received by each party during their custody period and shall place a photocopy of said documents and bills in the legal custody notebook to be given to the other parent at every custody exchange. All requests for reimbursement on uninsured medical expenses and/or extracurricular activities shall be made by the parties in the legal custody notebook within thirty (30) days of payment of such an expense. Reimbursement shall be placed and noted in the legal custody notebook within thirty (30) days of the expense being placed in the notebook.

The mom or dad should purchase the legal custody notebook within 24 hours. Such a notebook shall be a three-ring binder filled with lined notebook paper. Once the page is full, the party making the next entry shall place the page number following the prior page number at the top of each new page.  Mother shall keep all pages for odd numbered months and Father for even numbered months.  Each shall give the other copies of their month by the end of the following month (i.e. the mother will give January copies to the father by the end of February).  Each shall replenish the paper for month that they keep the originals (i.e. mother will replenish the paper used in January). There are also several other legal notebooking options available online.

Sharing joint legal custody allows both parents active decision making for their children as well as the opportunity to begin working with the other parent on their children’s future.


Note: Part 1 explained legal custody and the several different areas it covers. Click here to read.


Margaret “Molly” P. Murphy is an Associate Attorney in the Arnold, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Murphy is admitted to practice law in the state of Missouri. Ms. Murphy was born and raised in St. Louis. She received her B.A. in Political Science and English Language and Literature in 1998 from the University of Tulsa where she graduated magna cum laude. Ms. Murphy received her Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2001.

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