Protecting Your Rights & Advocating For Your Interests
When the courts determine a parenting time schedule for parents, they will also separately determine who has decision-making power over major decisions that affect the children. There are three types of parental decision-making:
- Joint decision-making – This type of decision-making agreement is by far the most commonly ordered by the court. When two parents share joint decision-making authority, they both have to agree prior to either parent making any major decisions about their children.
- Sole decision-making –This type of decision-making is less common, but under sole decision-making, one parent has the authority to make major decisions about the child and their welfare. The parent with decision-making authority may still be required to get input from the other parent prior to making the decision. The important distinction, though, is that they don’t have to obtain the other parent’s consent prior to making the ultimate decision.
- Split decision-making - This type of decision making is when each parent has sole decision-making authority for different areas.
Joint decision-making authority tends to be most effective when parents get along, are willing to cooperate with one another, make joint decisions in the child’s best interests, and have similar ideas about how their children should be raised.
However, what happens when parents are unable to come to an agreement on a major issue affecting their child? Or, what options does a parent have when they strongly disagree with the decisions of the parent with sole decision-making?
Whether you’re having a dispute with the other parent over a specific issue or you wish to modify your decision-making agreement altogether, a skilled Denver post-decree modifications attorney at Halligan LLC can help. We are highly skilled at helping parents resolve disagreements, and we also have the experience and resources needed to fight for your rights and the best interests of your child.
Contact us today to learn about your legal options when it comes to the decisions that may affect your child’s future.
How Is Decision-Making Determined?
When a judge makes a determination regarding decision-making, their chief concern is always the best interests of the child. Decision-making responsibilities are typically divided into two categories: major decisions and minor decisions.
Minor decisions are typically smaller day-to-day decisions that a parent can make on their own without consulting the other parent. Major decisions, however, are typically bigger decisions about the children that parents must both agree to before proceeding, assuming they have a joint decision-making agreement.
Some types of major parental decisions include:
- Medical, Dental, Vision, and Mental Health Decisions – If a child needs surgery or if an orthodontist recommends that a child get braces, these types of major medical decisions require both parents’ involvement. If there is joint decision making, a parent also may not change their child’s medical or mental provider without consulting the other parent. If it’s a minor medical issue, such as a child who feels sick and needs to see the doctor one day, this is usually not a major decision that requires both parents to consent. If a child needs emergency medical care, then that also typically doesn’t require both parents to consent.
- Education decisions – Decisions about whether to homeschool a child or send them to public or private schools (and which specific private or public school) have to be made by both parents if there is joint decision making. Moving schools would also typically require both parents to consent.
When Might Modification of Decision-Making Be Permitted?
When considering whether to modify a decision-making order, the court will always consider the best interests of the child and will want to avoid causing any unnecessary disruption to a child’s life. Courts will typically only consider approving a decision-making modification if:
- Both parents agree to modify the decision-making order.
- Parenting time was recently modified, and decision-making authority should be altered to complement the change in parenting time.
- The parent who is requesting modification has integrated the child into their family with the approval of the other parent.
- One spouse has regularly made all the major decisions in the past, and modifying the arrangement would therefore not severely disrupt the child’s life.
- The child is endangered or the other parent’s decision-making authority is putting the child’s welfare in jeopardy.
It is also worth noting that modification isn’t a one-way street. If one parent is initially granted sole decision-making authority, it is possible for the other parent who does not have decision-making power to move for a joint decision-making order at a later date.
A parent who wants joint decision-making authority needs to be able to show that it is in their child’s best interest. It is typically more difficult for a parent who is disputing a joint decision-making arrangement and wants to take authority away from the other parent. A parent who wants to modify the arrangement to be the sole decision-maker may need to be able to show the court that the child is endangered by the current arrangement.
How to Modify Decision-Making
If you wish to modify the decision-making agreement following your divorce, there is a legal process in Colorado that you must follow.
If you and the other parent agree to the modification of decision-making authority, then you will need to file a stipulation with the court that original order.
If the two parents are not in agreement, then the parent who is requesting the modification must file a motion. An attorney can help you identify all of the information you should submit when you file a motion to best support your case for modifying decision-making responsibilities.
Contact the Family Attorneys at Halligan LLC
The Denver post-decree modifications attorneys at Halligan LLC have extensive and up-to-date knowledge of Colorado family law and can advise you on any issues surrounding child custody, including modifying decision-making.
If you are a parent who wishes to modify your current decision-making arrangement, having a skilled and experienced attorney in your corner is crucial. Our attorneys will review your case and help you craft the best possible strategy for achieving your desired outcome, all while keeping the best interests of your child or children top of mind.
Call us at (720) 608-2361 or contact us online today for a consultation. We’re here to help.