Best Interest of the Child
No matter how much you and the other parent try to resolve disputes in a mature fashion, it is a good possibility that the two of you aren’t going to completely agree on everything. It is imperative that these disagreements are handled in a productive fashion. Ideally, these matters can be resolved without the direct involvement of the courts. However, if forced to become involved, judges make decisions based on the best interests of the child. Generally, the best interests of the child include items like the physical and emotional safety of the child, as well as the child’s stability, security, and overall well-being. Courts generally determine that it’s in a child’s best interest to have a consistent, supportive relationship with each parent. This usually means that, if possible, both parents will have relatively equivalent parenting time and will share the decision-making responsibilities with the child. This will theoretically place the parents on equal footing. The fact that you may disagree with the parenting style of the other parent does not mean that you can force them to adapt to your preferences. It is important to recognize that each parent will generally have equal legal parenting rights. Although this sounds reasonable, problems, disagreements, and questions often arise. Who gets to determine what, and under what circumstances? What does “equal” decision-making actually mean? While court orders or parenting plans attempt to address all possible problems, it is impossible to anticipate every possible scenario that might arise. So how do these disputes get resolved? Hopefully, the two parents maintain a relationship that is functional enough to allow them to maturely discuss these issues and resolve them. Most court orders require that the parents attend mediation prior to either parent filing an action concerning a parenting time or decision-making dispute with the court. Afterwards, the parents can file an action with the court to address these matters. However, keep in mind that filing an action may lead to an outcome that isn’t ideal for one or both of the parents. Remember, parents working together tend to make the best decisions for their children.