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What if co-parents disagree about education or health care?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2023 | Co-Parenting

Sharing parental rights and responsibilities can prove challenging. Parents in Illinois who no longer live together still generally have shared responsibilities to their children. They must spend a certain amount of time with them in accordance with the court order for their family. They may also need to provide financial support.

Decision-making is another responsibility that falls to parents. Children cannot always make decisions in their own best interests, and so their parents must decide what health care they receive and where they go to school. Married parents share this responsibility, and even then, they may disagree about major decisions for their children. The risk of conflict is much higher when parents do not maintain a relationship and must make important decisions for their children. What happens if parents sharing custody in Illinois disagree about key educational or medical matters for their children?

They may need to go back to court

Matters related to parental authority can be easy to address if there are certain terms already in place regarding legal decision-making authority. Some court orders breaking down parental rights and responsibilities include details about who has final decision-making authority in certain scenarios. One parent may be able to make the final decision about a child’s schooling or health care.

Other times, there is an allocation of authority to both parents and an assumption that they should reach an agreement with one another. Each parent usually has the authority to handle minor issues and emergencies during their parenting time but should cooperate with the other for bigger decisions. When they cannot compromise on an important decision for their children, such as whether they require certain elective medical care, parents may need to go back to court.

They can ask to modify the custody order to grant one parent final decision-making authority or to have a judge rule on a specific decision for the family. An Illinois family law judge can familiarize themselves with the situation and attempt to set terms that would be in the best interests of the child involved.

Those putting together parenting plans in Illinois may want to negotiate very clear terms for decision-making authority to prevent future conflicts. Those already facing a conflict may need to update an existing arrangement to better meet their family’s needs.