What is decision-making responsibility and who gets it?

1. Think about who should make decisions about your child

Think about what’s best for your child and what kind of plan will work best for your family. Keep in mind how well you get along with your partner, and who should be responsible for making major decisions.

Decision-making responsibility used to be called . It means having the legal right to make major decisions about how to care for and raise your child. This includes important decisions about:

  • education, like which school the child goes to
  • medical care, like which doctor the child goes to
  • religion, like whether the child follows a religion and which one
  • important extra-curricular activities

Decision-making responsibility can be divided in a few ways:

  • one parent has all the ,
  • 2 or more parents have decision-making responsibility, or
  • different parents are responsible for different areas. For example, one parent makes decisions about the child’s health and another parent makes decisions about the child’s religion.

If you and your partner have decided to share decision-making responsibility, one of you cannot make decisions without the other agreeing to it. This situation works best when parents share similar ideas about how to raise their child. It takes a lot of co-operation. You and your partner have to get along well and have similar ideas about what is best for your child. It usually doesn’t work where there is a history of partner abuse.

If you and your partner don’t get along, or have very different ideas on parenting, you may want to have all the decision-making responsibility. Sometimes, when one parent has the right to make all the decisions, they may choose to get the other parent’s opinion. Or a court may order them to get the other parent’s opinion. But, the parent with decision-making responsibility gets to make the final decision.

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