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Parental decision making is a shared role within the confines of the family and as stipulated by Colorado child custody law. For live-in parents (married or co-habiting) that role should be simpler of an undertaking. The truth is sometimes what we think should be easy may not be. Gender roles are nonspecific but as it relates to the rearing of the children, but more often than not the primary care role falls chiefly on the female while the role of the disciplinarian falls mostly on the male in the family.

When parents are involved in a visiting relationship, the parent whose home is the primary place of residence for the children has main responsibility for the day to day decisions affecting the child/children; important decisions that affect the general health and well-being of the child/children, such as methods of discipline, personal hygiene, recreational activities, emotional health and spiritual well-being.

Joint Decision Making

In reality, one parent typically spends more time preforming the majority of parenting functions due to daily demands of life. Under Colorado family law, parents have joint legal custody which represents a joint responsibility in all decisions affecting the rearing of the child/children. This means no one person can unilaterally make a decision; there should be some discussion between both parents culminating in an amicable decision that is in the best interest of the child/children. There are instances where all major decision making or some parts of major decisions can be ordered solely for one parent.

Major Decisions

Major decisions as recognized under Colorado custody law are the ones that affect the general welfare of the child/children:

  • Medical & Mental
  • Education
  • Spiritual

Making these decisions in unison works well if both parents have the same moral compass and general focus for themselves as well as their child/children. The ability to make decisions jointly is good for the children as they are already under stress. However when parents can’t agree and when there are major differences of opinion, additional measures may need to be implemented which may include an appointment of a CFI or a PRE, and ultimately the court may decide whether the decision making should stay joint or if one parent should have the sole decision making.

Falling outside of this scope of custody law are emergency situations. When the welfare of the child/children comes into serious question and when a speedy decision is paramount there is no time to wait on diplomacy, at such time Colorado custody law allows for the making of unilateral decisions.