The overwhelming majority of divorces result in parties agreeing to shared parental decision-making subsequent to their divorce. Shared parental decision-making is defined as parents discussing and agreeing upon major issues in their children's lives including, but not limited to education, non‑emergency healthcare (for example orthodontics/braces), and extracurricular activities which would occur on both parents' (both parents' timesharing/visitation).
However, in my 38‑years of experience I have come to realize that other specific areas of shared decision-making should be specifically delineated as examples of shared parental decision-making. They include:
- Piercing and tattooing. Tattooing and piercing has become far more prevalent in our society during recent years. Shows about tattoos and tattoo parlors appear frequently on reality TV. Whole magazines are now devoted to tattoos. However, the last thing most parents want to see is to have their pre‑teen or teen prancing home from a visit with the more liberal mom or dad sporting a new tattoo or piercing. By having this decision-making issue specifically listed as a shared decision between parents, also minimizes potential for manipulation of the parents by their child;
- When should a child have possession and/or use of a cell phone or other electronic communication device? Cell phones are common place in our society. However, one parent may be more conservative as to when a child should have possession of a cell phone and be able to use one on a consistent basis. To avoid cell phones becoming an issue of control between parents, and subject of manipulation by your child, then it should be listed as specific shared decision-making;
- When should your child use their own social media website or other site on the internet? Parents attitudes regarding social media and their children's use of it can vary widely. Again, to keep peace between divorced parents and to eliminate another area of manipulation by your child, this area should be listed under joint decision-making;
- Legacy settings on social media. Recently, Facebook has instituted a legacy setting. A Legacy setting is where an owner of a Facebook account can designate the individual or individuals to whom Facebook will permit access to a Facebook account when the account owner has died and their passwords are not known by their loved ones. There have been many tragic stories of parents of young adults who have not been able to access their children's Facebook accounts because of the policies of Facebook in terms of this issue. Both parents should be listed as legacy designees on a child's Facebook account. In the event that one parent can only be designated as a legacy, then the agreement should indicate that the parents will cooperate with one another in permitting them to have access to their child's Facebook or other social media account;
- Modeling or performing contracts. Generally speaking, children cannot enter into contracts without their parents' consent until they reach the age of 18. Here in Southeast Florida, they are bombarded daily with advertisements auditioning children for television and movies. In addition, there are general calls held on a regular basis for children and teenagers to appear, be interviewed, and apply to become a model for magazines, television and/or other advertisements. This is another issue in which parents' opinions vary widely. To prevent this issue from becoming an area of contention, it should be included as a specific area of parental decision-making.
The old adage is: "the devil is in the details". Based on the above, at least in terms of parental decision-making, the more detailed description of various joint parental decisions then the less likely it will be for one parent to inappropriately make a decision or less likely for either parent to be manipulated by the child. Each parenting plan is unique to your child there may be additional subjects that should be specifically stated in parental decision-making in your divorce.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your pending or anticipated divorce, then please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312 to schedule a consultation.