Which Parent Has the Right to Make Major Decisions About Your Child?
No matter what the timesharing arrangement may be, there comes a point at which certain decisions about a child’s welfare are necessary. These decisions may involve crucial medical care for a child, educational options, or childrearing choices. Regardless of the subject, any parenting plan for divorced or separated parents specifically should allocate responsibility for these decisions between the parents, whether one parent receives all decision-making authority or the parents must cooperate to make the decision together. There also should be a provision governing the resolution of any disputes between parents about decision-making for the child.
Joint Parental Responsibility for Child-Related Decisions
In the vast majority of cases, parents will both have the right and responsibility to make major decisions that affect their children. A shared parenting arrangement requires parents to discuss decisions that must be made for their child and reach a joint consensus on the relevant issue. Whatever the court orders or the parties agree upon should be a part of the written parenting plan in terms of decision-making authority with respect to the child’s education, religion, and medical care.
Sole Responsibility for Child-Related Decisions
In very rare circumstances, a court may allocate all decision-making responsibility solely to one parent. This can only occur if the court finds that shared parental decision-making would be detrimental to the child. Some examples of a situation in which one parent would have sole decision-making authority are parents with a history of domestic violence, past sexual or physical child abuse, abandonment by the other parent, or a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
When Parents Disagree
Even when parents are in an intact relationship, they may disagree about certain decisions that affect their children. The likelihood that divorced or separated parents will disagree at some point about major issues related to their children is quite high. In most cases, where the parenting plan calls for joint decision-making by the parents, there typically is some mechanism for dispute resolution in the event of a disagreement. For instance, the plan may call for the parents to undergo mediation, which requires the parents to meet with a neutral third party who can help them reach an agreement. If mediation fails, then the only option for resolution is for one or both parents to seek the assistance of the court. The judge will hold a hearing at which he or she hears evidence from both parties, and then will make a decision that is in the best interest of the child.
Working With You to Resolve Your Family Law Case
At the Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, we offer top-notch legal advice and representation for individuals involved in all types of family law proceedings. We routinely handle all aspects of Florida family law cases, including timesharing issues and parental responsibility arrangements. We know how important your children are to you, and how essential it is to obtain court orders that are truly in your children’s best interests. We have represented countless clients in Florida family law cases, and we know what it takes to achieve our clients’ objectives, including issues related to your children.