A large part of determining parenting arrangements in a child custody case is determining how the major decisions affecting the child’s life will be handled. Not all cases will be appropriate for joint decision-making. Parents should carefully consider their child’s best interests and their individual circumstances when deciding the type of decision-making they will seek.
Joint decision-making is most appropriate in cases in which the parents are able to communicate well and reasonably in making all major decisions for the child. Decisions may include such things as religious practice, where the child will attend school and the type of health care that is best suited for the child’s needs. This type of decision-making is not appropriate for parents who are unable to get along with one another.
In some cases, parents may decide to split different categories of decisions between them in a parenting arrangement. For example, one parent may be responsible for all religious decisions, while the other may be responsible for the child’s educational and medical needs decisions. If selecting this method, parents should still be aware of how a decision regarding one type of need may impact the child in the other parent’s category. Sole decision-making is appropriate when parents have significant conflicts and are unable to get along. It is also generally what should be sought in situations in which there has been a history of domestic or family violence.
Decision-making is a highly important aspect of child custody matters. People should think about their own family and their child’s interests when deciding which type to request. Those who are going through a child custody dispute may want to discuss the various types of decision-making authority with their family law lawyer.
Source: Department of Justice Canada, “A guide to parenting arrangements after separation or divorce,” Accessed on Jan. 20, 2015