Filed Under (Child Support, Custody and Visitation, Divorce and Legal Separation) on 06-12-2014
For most parents, the issue is not whether you should make mutual decisions about your children after your divorce; the issue is whether you can. What the court concerns itself with are the so-called major decisions affecting the children. The law simply refers to “each issue affecting the child”. You or the court may list the important decisions you anticipate making about your children and then decide if you will make these decisions together (the law uses the term “mutual”), or if one or the other of you will make them (the law uses the term “individual”). You can mix and match. You may agree to make some decisions together, and turn some decisions over to one or the other of you.
Who is not (Quite) Ready for Mutual Decision-Making?
Parents who have great difficulty making decisions together have many of these characteristics:
• They maintain intense, continuing conflict and hostility which they are unable to divert from the children.
• They exhibit overwhelming anger and the continuing need to punish the former spouse.
• There is a history of physical abuse.
• There is a history of substance abuse.
• One or both maintain a fixed belief that the other is a bad parent.
• One or both is unable to separate his or her own feelings and needs from those of the children.
If any of these applies to you or your spouse, mutual decision-making may still be a possibility if your determination is great enough, but you will probably require some professional help. There are therapists who specialize in teaching parenting skills. See “Divorce Services and Consultants” in Chapter 2 of the Friendly Divorce Guidebook.
You can find a Parental Decision-Making Questionnaire and many other helpful tools in the “Friendly Divorce Guidebook: How to Do Your Own Divorce in Colorado” by M. Arden Hauer MA, JD.