Recently, the New York Times published an article by a divorced author who indicated that divorced parents have “lost their rights.” The author indicated that “American courts consistently refuse to entertain child-rearing disputes between married parents,” but that divorced parents routinely sue each other over child care matters. The result of this is that important decisions are made by courts that should be made by divorced parents working together.
While it is true that parents can sometimes be forced to turn to the courts to make decisions when they cannot agree, parents also have the option of trying to negotiate and resolve issues themselves outside of court. A divorce lawyer can provide the legal help that parents need to understand their rights and raise their children in the way they see fit.
Divorced Parents and Decisions on Child-Rearing
According to the Times article, judges are asked to make too many decisions on child-rearing because the law assumes that divorced parents do not have their interests aligned when it comes to taking care of children. The view that divorced parents are opponents, rather than working collaboratively together, comes from an outdated era when one parent was granted custody and the other was relegated to being just a visitor.
Today, around half of all first marriages end in divorce and around 40 percent of children are born to parents who are not married at all. It is very common for parents to live separately and share custody or for divorced or separated parents to develop a parenting plan regarding how time should be split. Cooperative parenting is better for children according to most psychologists, and families can be happier when parents work together to make choices even when they are divorced.
If parents are divorced and share physical custody of the child, they may also share legal custody as well. This would mean that both parents have a say on important decisions like where kids should go to school. When two parents who have legal custody agree on an issue, it should not need to come before they court. When they disagree on an issue, they can take the matter before the court and ask a judge to make a decision on the matter.
The Times article indicates that parents sometimes have their decisions overruled by judges even when they are in agreement. The example given is of a complex custody arrangement that parents might reach that the judge may not feel is appropriate. The suggested solution is that the most important criteria the judge should consider is whether parents are in agreement on a matter or not. If parents agree, the judge should not overrule the decision they have made.
The reality, however, is that judges are bound by law to act in a child’s best interests. If parents cannot convince a judge that the decision they have agreed on is in the best interests of the child, the judge needs to do what is right. If parents are in agreement, they should have a good lawyer help them to show the judge why the decision that they have made is the right one for their family.
Contact Bertolino LLP at 512-717-5432 to schedule a consultation with an Austin, TX divorce lawyer today.