Which parent makes medical choices for a child after divorce?

| May 6, 2021 | Divorce |

The word “custody” makes many people think of parenting time, but custodial time is only part of a parent’s rights and responsibilities. Parents don’t just need to be physically present and provide care, food and shelter for their children. They also need to make important decisions that shape child into adults.

A young child doesn’t have the ability to rationally consider their educational or medical needs, nor can they understand the cultural and social importance of their family’s faith. Parents often have to make decisions that children don’t appreciate in the short term but benefit from in the long term.

One of the hardest parts of divorce will be changing how much time you can spend with your children and a reduction and how much influence you have over the children. Who gets to make the big decisions when parents share custody after a divorce?

Both parents may have a say in big decisions

The custody laws in Kentucky aim to keep both parents as equally involved as possible. There is a presumption of shared custody that applies to all divorces with children. If either parent wants to limit the access or decision-making authority of the other, they will need grounds for doing so and evidence to support claims.

Most custody outcomes in Kentucky will involve both parents sharing decision-making authority and parenting time. In rare cases, a judge may award sole custody to one parent out of concern for the best interest of the children. The rest of the time, the parents need to find ways to work together.

How does shared decision-making work in real life?

Shared legal custody can be tricky, especially when parents have differing values or wishes. Still, many couples can make shared legal custody work for their family. Often, the parent who has custody at the time an emergency comes up is the one who will make related decisions.

If one parent spends more time with the children, they may become the de facto decision-making parent. When it comes to major considerations, like educational decisions, getting vaccinations or approving a child’s request to take an international trip with teenage friends over the summer, it is usually best for both parents to discuss the issue and reach a mutual agreement about what is appropriate.

If your ex has made questionable decisions or doesn’t listen to your input on major concerns despite your shared custody arrangements, you may need to ask the courts to intervene, especially when it comes to issues regarding education, faith or health.