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May 5, 2021

What is the difference between joint legal decision-making and sole legal decision-making?

Child Support

legal decision-making
What is the difference between joint legal decision-making and sole legal decision-making? And does it matter for child support?

The legal process surrounding child custody can be fraught, emotional, and intense. It brings up a lot—in your relationship with your former spouse, as well as your relationship with your child or children.

Because it can become so tense, having an attorney by your side, representing your best interests, can be incredibly important, both for your peace of mind as well as to negotiate and zealously advocate for the duration of legal proceedings.

One important legal issue that may arise is decision-making regarding the child’s life.

What is joint legal decision-making versus sole legal decision-making?

 As part of child custody, a critical element is which parent will get to decide the child’s upbringing, such as where the child will attend school. There are two kinds of decision-making processes that come about through the legal proceedings around custody. They are fairly straightforward but essential to know about.

First, there is joint decision-making. In this situation, both parents are permitted to work as a team in deciding what is best for the child. Consequently, in this scenario, parents will need to be able to work together. Thus, it requires a certain amount of amiableness between them to communicate, discuss, and then agree on what to do as a unit. This may be hard for some and not the best route if there has already been a breakdown of communication, and it is basically impossible for the parents to speak effectively, even for their child.

Second, there is sole decision-making, wherein only one of the parents can raise the child. Unlike joint decision-making, the other parent is not conferred within the decision-making process. In this scenario, one parent is left out of raising the child, which is likely extremely hard. Moreover, being the only parent raising a child, as a sole decision-maker, can be stressful and bear the weight of doing everything on your own.

However, in a situation involving domestic violence or other ways in which the relationship between parents is no longer safe or communication is not viable, this may be the only option.

What about child support?

The above two situations deal with parenting time and how much—and how deeply—each parent gets to decide about the child’s wellbeing, life, and future. Child support is another separate issue that parents must grapple with in child custody proceedings. On the one hand, “child support” is a monetary form of support provided to support the child by the parent who has no or a decreased role in the child’s life.

On the other hand, decision-making power and parenting time deal with supporting the child in a different, substantive way that does not have to do with money. Additionally, it is critical always to obey what the court has ordered, even if one parent is not holding up their end of the bargain and paying the child support they are supposed to be paying.

If the court has ordered parenting time to one or both parents, both parents must follow this. Hence, one parent cannot just decide that the other parent cannot see the child if the other parent fails to supply monetary support.

Can other people who are not the parents have legal decision-making authority?

In Arizona, persons that are not the parents of the child can have legal decision-making power regarding the child. The person would need to petition the court to get this authority.

In short, they would need to show:

  1.  That they are basically in place of a parent;
  2.  It would be not nice for the child if they are to live with their parent;
  3. Unless the child is in danger, a court had not entered an order regarding legal decision-making or parenting time within one year before the person filed the petition; and, finally,
  4. A parent has died, the child’s parents are not married, or a dissolution of marriage proceeding occurs.
Contact Reppucci & Roeder today to get the help you need from experienced attorneys.

Custody is an emotionally taxing process, and having an attorney to take care of all of the legal elements allows you to focus on yourself and your child. At Reppucci & Roeder, we are here to help during this trying time. Please contact us today at (480) 418-6420 for a free consultation.

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