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Creating A Parenting Plan: Decision-Making Rights And Responsibilities

Creating A Parenting Plan That Works!

Creating A Parenting Plan: Decision-Making Rights And Responsibilities 1

Part of a comprehensive parenting plan involves determining how certain parenting decisions will be made. The options are joint decision making, one party having certain decision-making power either overall or only in the event of an impasse, or splitting up issues so that one parent has the right to make decisions about certain issues and the other assumes the responsibility about making decisions about other issues. This blog post discusses the logistics of a joint decision making arrangement.

Basic Personal Information

Regardless of decision making responsibilities, it is necessary that both parents always disclose their current home and work addresses along with the proper contact information. Any changes to these statuses must be put into writing within 24 hours.

Major Decisions

Joint decision-making infers that both parents will consult one another when making major decisions that affect the child. In order for shared decision-making to work parents must have open communication and not withhold any information that may mislead major decisions. Most commonly, parents are expected to consult with each other about important questions concerning the child’s welfare, such as religion, education, major recreational activities, changes in social environment and non-emergency medical care. However, the right to consult with each other should not to be used to interfere with the life of the other party. Each party should use their best efforts to work cooperatively in future plans consistent with the best interests of the child and in amicably resolving such disputes as they may arise.

Day-to-Day Decisions

In shared decision making arrangements, typically, each parent is permitted to make decisions about the day-to-day care of the child when the child is in their care. This includes decisions such as whether a child can attend a play date or birthday party during their parenting time, what should be fed to the children, whether they can stay up late to finish a movie, etc. That said, it is advisable for parents to develop a standard set of rules, expectations, chores and discipline practices as part of their comprehensive parenting plan to ensure consistency for the children and a more seamless transition between homes. This could include a standard set of rules for screen time, bedtime, when to allow children to have their own telephones and computers, chore expectations, and other issues parents deem important.


If an emergency situation arises the parent who is currently caring for the child is typically responsible for making decisions in the child’s best interest. That parent should then inform the other about the emergency as soon as possible.

Access to Information

It’s also considered a basic right for both parents to have access to the child’s information as it relates to school and education, medical care, sports / artistic programs and other professionals with whom the children may be involved. Each parent should sign the appropriate documentation to permit access to records and reports pertaining to the child and cooperate when it comes to the sharing of information regarding the welfare of the child. It is also commonly considered the responsibility of each parent to obtain records and reports directly from the educational and medical institutions and professionals. It should not be one parent’s obligation to constantly provide that information to the other. Similarly, both parents will be listed as “emergency contacts” wherever necessary.

Extra-Curricular Activities

In a joint decision making arrangement, decisions regarding enrollment and participation shall not be made without consulting the other parent. This is true for all organized activities such as sports teams, lessons or special training. When the child is under the supervision of one parent, that parent is responsible for determining social events and attendance at organized activities. However, it is in the best interests of children to consistently attend their organized activities so each parent should make their best efforts to ensure the children’s attendance. Both parents have a responsibility to disclose all information to the other parent about the child’s participation in events and activities including concerts, award ceremonies, plays, and sports events. However, both parents have the responsibility to obtain this type of information directly from the school / sport / artistic body.

Attendance at Special Events / School Volunteering

Children love to have their parents attend their special events. Typically, each parent will be entitled to attend and participate in school and extracurricular activities and events, such as school concerts, music concerts, dance shows, and sporting games. Both parents will be able to volunteer at the school and should share such opportunities in the event they are limited.


Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.