Parents make a seemingly endless number of decisions on behalf of their children until those children reach adulthood. From what Halloween costume they’re permitted to wear to whether they can take certain medications, parents are their children’s advocates as well as their gatekeepers.
This decision-making authority tends to get a little tricky when a child’s parents are no longer romantically connected. In the wake of a divorce, legal separation or non-marital split, a child’s parents are usually empowered to make decisions about their child’s well-being and experience. Does that mean that co-parents need to run every decision by the other?
Parenting plans and personal preferences
If only one of a child’s parents has custody of that child, there is no need to run decisions by the child’s other parent, in most cases. Custody is the legal authority that confers decision-making rights concerning major issues of concern. However, if a child’s parents share custody, they will need to check in with the other when it comes to most “major” decisions related to healthcare, education, religion and other foundational matters.
But what of everyday matters? Say, for example, that your child wants to get their ears pierced. Do you need to check with your co-parent before giving them permission? This example is a bit of a grey area, as a piercing is usually a permanent change to a child’s body. To be safe, you’ll probably want to be a united front on this decision, although you are probably not legally obligated to check in on a matter like this. But, if the terms of your parenting plan address piercings, you’ll need to follow those guidelines or risk breaching your legally-binding arrangement.
It isn’t always clear when co-parents do and do not have to check in with one another concerning issues that affect their kids. If you are unsure and you could benefit from some clarity, seeking legal guidance isn’t a bad idea.