Decision-making responsibility is the power or authority to decide about your child’s well-being, education, health, religion, and anything surrounding their lives. The responsibility is not related to custody or the parent with whom the child lives. A Trustworthy and Experienced Family Lawyer in Scottsdale can help you understand family law provisions.
So, which parent gets decision-making responsibility and why? In most states, after a divorce or separation comes about, the parent with custody is the one with the decision-making responsibility. Suppose the parents have joint custody. Both have decision-making responsibilities.
Ways to Make Important Decisions for Your Child
Choose which approach to use depending on the situation you’re going through. Whatever you do should be in your children’s best interests. In this respect, parents should cooperate fully on parenting matters to make joint decision-making responsibility work for the children’s sake. We can divide decision-making responsibility into three categories:
- Joint decision-making responsibility is where both parents consult and make decisions together.
- Sole decision-making responsibility. Only one parent makes the decisions here.
- Divided (parallel) decision-making responsibility each parent decides on specific decisions alone and is responsible for them.
Sometimes divorce isn’t easy, and parents may fail to agree on anything, especially in domestic violence situations. The power imbalance can expose children to conflict, negatively affecting their well-being. So, it’s vital to come to an agreement and let the children grow in a healthy environment despite living with one parent.
How Courts Decide Decision-Making Responsibility
In deciding who the child should live with, the court does so while factoring in the decision-making responsibility. Plans determine parenting, schedule, contact, or time in the child’s best interest. Some of the factors to consider before arriving at a final decision include issues like:
- A child’s age and needs
- The relationship between the child and parents, grandparents, siblings, and any other person plays a vital role in the child’s life.
- The willingness of one parent to support the other in building a relationship with the child
- Details in the history of a child’s care
- A child’s wishes and more weight or consideration are older ones.
- Social factors like culture, religion, language, and the native heritage
- Plans in place for the child’s care
- Willingness and capability of the parent to meet the child’s needs
- Ability, and readiness, of the parents to communicate and collaborate on issues affecting a child
- Domestic violence and its effects on the ability of a parent to meet a child’s needs
- Any legal proceedings or measures might affect a child’s safety and security.
Family law courts will also consider the status quo, which involves the arrangements already in place concerning taking care of a child. If the living arrangement works well for the child, the court will likely not make significant changes as it can destabilize or negatively affect the child.
Types of Parenting and Contact
A court order may instruct a child to live with one parent or schedule parenting time. The schedule can grant equal time for both parents or give more time to one parent. Further, parenting time will include regular holiday plans or vacations and give a parent more time during summer than in the school year. We can divide parenting time into two categories:
- Supervised – If the court determines the child’s safety is at risk, an order for the parent to spend time with the child is governed by the other.
- Following orders – Parents must adhere to court orders or agreements. One parent can enforce the order, or you can ask the court to order the police to implement it.
Common Terminologies Under the New Divorce Act
Some divorce terminologies might need clarification for a layperson to understand, but we have covered them to assist you.
- Parenting time – Children spend time under their parent’s care, physically or in school. It was known as access before, and a parent should be able to ask for it unless the court forbids it.
- Decision-making responsibility – The role of making decisions concerning a child’s welfare lies with the parent with custody, jointly or parallel.
- Parenting orders – It’s an order by the court detailing parenting arrangements like; the time a child will spend with each parent, decisions each can make, and communication with the child.
- A parenting plan involves how separated, or divorced parents should care for the child together. Any parenting plan is welcome as long as it focuses on what’s best for the child.
- Contact – This is a court-ordered time that anyone unique to a child can be with them, like grandparents.
- Shared parenting time – Both parents have equal rights towards caring for a child.
- Split parenting time – It’s common in situations where more than one child and one parent get more parenting time each. In the context of child support, people commonly use this term.
- Most parenting time – A child spends more time with one parent.