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Decisions That Parents With Shared Custody Should Make Together After a Divorce

Posted on November 15th, 2022

For divorcing spouses who have children, the relationship never truly ends. Even if the marriage has come to a close, you are still expected to co-parent effectively. Your relationship might become much more professional and unemotional, but it is a working relationship nonetheless. Almost inevitably, you will disagree on various aspects of your child-raising plan.

Perhaps some of these disputes were the reason you divorced in the first place. Parents can have vastly different opinions on what represents a healthy, safe lifestyle for their children – especially since Americans are more divided than ever before on a range of medical, political, and social issues. Despite these potential conflicts, there are several decisions that both parents should strive to make together after a divorce. In fact, you are legally required to make these decisions as a team:


The first and most obvious potential source of conflict involves education. Parents may have very different ideas on how their children should learn about the world. Some might believe that their children should be homeschooled to avoid alleged propaganda that has infiltrated the public school system. Other parents may have the complete opposite opinion, believing that children should have a chance to interact with other students their age and receive education on subjects like racism, gender studies, and equity.

Other parents might want their children to attend private school. Some might even feel that their children belong in a boarding school or a mono-gender school with no opportunities to fraternize with the opposite sex. Perhaps one parent might want their child to attend the same prestigious private school that their family has been attending for generations. The critical thing to remember is that when parents have shared legal custody, educational decisions must be made with both parties’ consent.


Parents may also have very different religious views, and this can lead to serious disputes about how children should be raised. For example, one parent might convert to Islam after marrying a new partner. The other parent may remain a practicing Christian, and a dispute may arise over which religion the child should officially follow. Of course, it is impossible to follow both of these religions at once.

Or perhaps the child might independently come to the conclusion that they wish to join a religious group on their own, such as Scientology. One parent might be tolerant of the child’s wishes – even encouraging. But the other parent might be very concerned about this new development, and they might take steps to prevent this religious involvement – even if they consider themselves atheists. Once again, parents who share legal custody are required to make these decisions together.


Healthcare is another major source of conflict between parents, and this is perhaps a greater issue today than ever before. The recent pandemic has led to vastly differing opinions on subjects like mask use, vaccinations, boosters, and social distancing. But many other medical procedures may cause conflicts between parents, such as gender-reassignment surgery, hormone treatment, or even a teen abortion. Under a system of shared legal custody, both parents are given an equal say in these matters.

Other Major Decisions

While the above three issues represent the most common source of conflict when it comes to major child-raising decisions, there are many other possibilities. The exact definition of a “major parenting decision” is left somewhat vague, and family courts often use their own discretion to handle these matters. Here are some other examples of what might constitute a significant parenting decision:

  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Whether children can attend summer camp
  • When a child is allowed to date
  • When a child is allowed to drive
  • How children should be disciplined

What if We Cannot Agree?

If parents cannot agree on how to handle these decisions, they may need to hire family law attorneys and take the matter to court. Judges will review the situations on a case-by-case basis and determine a course of action that serves the child’s best interest. Sometimes, they will grant temporary sole legal custody to one parent, allowing them to make the decision on their own. Sometimes, this decision-making authority will extend only to one aspect of the child-raising process – such as healthcare. In other situations, it will extend to all major parenting decisions. Sometimes, a parent will be granted permanent sole legal custody, although this is rare.

Where Can I Find a Qualified Family Law Attorney in Los Angeles?

If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced family law attorney in Los Angeles, look no further than Harris Family Law Group. Over the years, we have helped numerous divorced parents handle a range of custody issues and disputes. Whether you cannot agree with your ex about religious, medical, or educational decisions, we can help you fight for your parental rights effectively. Book a consultation today to get started with an effective action plan.