Co-parents need to try to work together as they determine how they want to raise their children. As you can imagine, however, this type of cooperation is not always easy. And parents are certainly allowed to have different rules and opinions from one house to the next. For instance, one parent may have a strict curfew, while the other does not.
But what happens when co-parents disagree on more major issues? For example, many children get vaccines when they’re born, but what if one parent is opposed to these vaccines and the other is not? To that end, what if the parents can’t even agree on which pediatrician the child should see for their care? These are major decisions that are going to have a health impact on the child’s life, so what should parents do when they do not agree?
The role of legal custody
The first thing to understand about this situation is that both parents may not have legal custody. The setup of a child custody agreement is very important. Both legal and physical custody – where the child lives – can be divided between co-parents. But they don’t have to be divided in the same way. If only one parent has legal custody, even if both parents have physical custody, then that parent is allowed to make particularly consequential decisions.
The next thing to keep in mind is that some of these decisions do not have a solution that may be made via compromise. If both parents refuse to budge from their position, then they may have no alternative but to go to court. A judge can consider the child’s best interests and make a ruling that is in line with those interests. Once this order has been handed down, even if one parent is still against the instructions given by the court, they are legally obligated to follow the order.
You can imagine that a situation like this may grow very contentious between two co-parents. It’s quite important for them to know exactly what legal steps to take in the event of a serious disagreement, what rights they have and how to put their children first.