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Who makes school and medical decisions if parents share custody?

On Behalf of | Nov 25, 2023 | Parenting plans

When parents share custody of their children, they often focus on arrangements for sharing time with the children. Those who negotiate a workable and thorough schedule will have an easier time adjusting to their new arrangements. 

Inevitably, those co-parenting in Pennsylvania will have some disagreements about scheduling and other important decisions related to their children. Sometimes, those decisions can have lasting consequences. Medical and educational choices are among some of the most important decisions that adults make on behalf of minor children. 

Which adult makes those decisions when parents share custody? 

Shared legal custody is common

Most parents expect to share physical custody which involves the time spent with the children. Parents might pay less attention to legal custody. Legal custody is what gives an adult the authority to make decisions on behalf of a child. 

Parents who share physical custody typically also share legal custody. They will likely need to agree on major decisions whenever possible. Occasionally, a custody order may include provisions that grant one parent decision-making authority in certain areas, such as the religious observances of the children. 

Other times, the expectation is that the parents will reach an agreement with one another when major choices are necessary. If they cannot, then they may need to go back to court. A judge could either grant one parent more legal custody to give them decision-making authority in the matter or decide for the family what would be in the best interest of the children in that specific scenario. 

Understanding how parents can share decision-making authority may help adults minimize family conflict while consistently acting in the best interests of their children.


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