If you have children, you and the other parent will define the way in which you will make major decisions for your children. The most significant decisions are health, education and general welfare. As you begin to think about this issue, you may discover that you have already made many decisions for your children. And, there are others that you and the other parent may readily agree upon. But, there may be some areas that are problematic for either or both of you.

This is the time to identify other issues that present concerns for you. Some parents, for example, want to clarify the children’s’ religious upbringing. Some parents must protect their children from a spouse/family member’s substance abuse, involvement with pornographic material, or inappropriate behavior towards the children. You may want to decide whether your children will have a cell phone or access to social media. The day-to-day decisions such as minor discipline matters, chores, allowance, curfew and hygiene generally will be made by the parent with whom the children are staying at any given time.

In Colorado, you have a choice. You can have shared decision-making, which means that you will make all major decisions jointly with the other parent. Or, one parent can have sole decision-making authority, which means that one parent will make all the major decisions for the children. You can also allocate the decision-making authority between you so that, for example, one parent might make medical decisions and the other parent might make education decisions. There are other hybrids that you can design as well.

The decision-making process that you and the other parent agree on will be written in your PARENTING PLAN. The PARENTING PLAN will be submitted to the Court and, if approved, will become an Order of the Court. If you and your spouse can’t come up with a Plan by working directly with each other, you might try working with a mediator. The process can be very helpful. Ultimately, if you can’t come to agreement on how the major decisions will be made for your children, the Judge will decide for you.