Parenting your child involves a wide variety of different tasks, from ensuring that they get to school on time to making decisions that will help them grow up happy and healthy. When you and your ex share legal custody of your child, though, you may face the challenge of working together as you make those decisions. What decisions might you and your ex need to make together when you share legal decision making?
What might constitute a “major decision”?
When you and your child’s other parent share legal decision making authority, you both have the power to make major decisions about your child’s medical care, education and religious upbringing. As a result, you may need to work together to decide these details of your child’s life. Some of the many questions you may need to answer include:
- Health — What doctor will your child see? What treatments will they receive? Will they receive vaccinations? What medication will they take?
- Education — Where will your child attend school? Will they receive their education at a public school, or will they attend a charter school or private school? During the current health challenges, will they attend classes virtually or in person?
- Religion — Will your child attend church? What kind of faith background will they have as they grow? Are other religious activities going to be a part of their weekly schedule? Will they be confirmed or undergo other rites of passage in the church?
In many cases, you will need to work together to answer these questions and reach an arrangement that reflects both of your wishes as parents.
What if you cannot agree on these decisions?
Because these matters are often sensitive, these questions can create significant challenges if you and your ex cannot reach an agreement.
When you disagree with the other parent, the first solution you can explore is mediation. While you may have difficulty coming to an agreement now, a mediator may help you find common ground.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to request a modification to your parenting order as well, allowing the court to determine which parent is better able to make decisions that support your child’s needs. If you believe the other parent is making poor medical decisions for your child, for example, you may petition the court for more decision-making power in this area.