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Legal Decision-Making (Custody)

Yuma Child Custody Attorney Explains Legal Decision-Making Authority

Formerly legal custody, it’s the right to raise your child as you see fit

If you are in a child custody dispute, a term you may need to familiarize yourself with is legal decision-making. This parental right used to be called legal custody, and it refers to your authority to make major decisions that affect the health and welfare of your child. If you are in conflict with your child’s other parent over important matters in your child’s upbringing, you can negotiate a resolution to the conflict as part of your parenting plan for your child or ask the court for the authority to decide those matters yourself. The Law Office of Phil Hineman, P.C. helps parents assert their right to exercise legal decision-making so they can continue to have a positive effect on their child’s formation.

The basics of legal decision-making in Arizona

There are significant decisions parents must make in the lives of their children that cover a range of topics, such as where the children go to school, whether they will receive certain religious education, what to do about medical issues, the choice of enrichment activities, and on and on. When parents live together, they would ideally make important decisions together. But when the parents divorce, they must draft a parenting plan that formalizes the way they make, implement and respect decisions, or they must let the court rule on the issue.

Legal decision-making can be granted in one of two ways:

  • Sole — One parent has the right to exercise legal decision-making authority. This is appropriate when only one parent is mature and responsible or fully engaged in the children’s lives. It can also be appropriate when a child has special needs and one parent has specialized knowledge of the condition. In such a case, legal decision-making can be limited to specific health issues.
  • Joint — The parents share the right to make important decisions. This is appropriate when both parents are mature and responsible and can cooperate reasonably with each other. Parenting plans that call for joint decision-making authority often contain mechanisms for resolving strong disagreements. Parents could agree to mediate such disputes or appoint a trusted individual to be the final arbiter.

Legal decision-making does not include routine matters such as chores for the children, bedtimes and permissible TV viewing. Such matters are generally the domain of each parent under the general principle of “my house, my rules.”

Resolving conflicts over legal decision-making

A family law attorney must be adept at helping parents resolve conflicts over custody and visitation rights so they can present a comprehensive parenting plan to the court for approval. Reaching a negotiated or mediated solution is generally preferable, as it gives parents greater control over the final outcome. Settlements avoid rulings that can be adverse to one of the parties and get greater buy-in from both parents so they are more likely to work in the long term.

However, there are times when you must aggressively litigate to gain sole legal decision-making for the good of your children. If your situation demands a court battle, we are ready to fight to help you obtain the results you need.

Contact a child custody lawyer in Yuma for reliable counsel on legal decision-making

The Law Office of Phil Hineman, P.C. provides knowledgeable guidance and determined representation in all types of child custody disputes. Call us today at 928-257-1155 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.


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