Understanding Legal Decision-Making Authority

When parents divorce, many decisions must be made regarding their minor children. Usually, both parents are expected to provide for their children and spend time with them. Understanding legal decision-making authority is the first step toward creating a healthy parenting situation. Legal decision-making authority is the responsibility to make important decisions on behalf of the children. It was formerly known as legal custody or child custody.

Types of Legal Decisions That Must Be Made

There are various legal decisions that must be made for your children throughout their lives. Some of the most significant are those that involve health care, religion, education, and personal care (e.g. ear piercing). In general, both parents have legal decision-making authority for their children assuming they are both fit parents. Parents must work together to provide the best possible care for their kids.

Sole Legal Decision-Making Responsibility for Parents

Although shared legal decision-making is the most common court order, there are some exceptions. Sometimes the judge will order just one parent to have legal decision-making authority. This is only ordered in cases where the situation warrants it. The child’s well-being must be taken into consideration. Several factors are examined to determine whether sole legal decision-making should be granted.

Factors Considered When Determining Legal Decision-Making

Some of the “best interests” factors that will be used in granting parents legal decision-making responsibility include:

  • The relationship between the child and parents
  • Whether there is a history of abuse or neglect
  • The physical and mental health of parents and child
  • The child’s adjustment to school and home
  • Whether the parent will allow contact with the child
  • Whether a parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse

If the child is old enough or has enough maturity, his or her wishes may be taken into consideration as well.

 Best Interests of the Child

It is essential to realize that the courts will always make an order based on what is in the best interests of the child. In cases where there has been significant domestic violence, substance abuse, or where the child would be in danger, a parent may not be granted custody. Additionally, the parent’s visitation rights may be diminished or supervised. And if there has been criminal activity with parents then I highly recommend to first contact Boston Criminal Lawyer | Kelly & Soto Law.

Parents with children face many unique decisions when they divorce. Call the compassionate lawyers at Udall Shumway PLC for a consultation to discuss your case.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Understanding Legal Decision-Making Authority, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.