Decision-Making Responsibilities

Decision-making responsibility refers to the authority to make significant decisions concerning a child’s well-being. When parents are together generally they both have the right to make these types of decisions. However, when parents are no longer together, or when they never were together, choices must be made about how important decisions about the child's health and well-being will be made.

Parents can agree about how these decisions will be made. They may make a parenting plan or agreement that covers decision-making responsibility. If the parents cannot agree either parent may decide to apply for a court order. If a court is deciding how significant decisions will be made for the child they will only consider the best interests of the child.

Parents can agree or the court can order that each of them is responsible for making certain decisions. Decision-making responsibility can also be shared between parents or one parent may have the sole decision-making responsibility. When decision-making is shared an agreement or court order can set out what happens if the parents cannot agree. When one parent has the sole authority to make some or all decisions an agreement or court order can include a requirement that the other parent be consulted.

What are Significant Decisions?

Decision-making responsibility is the authority to make significant decisions concerning a child’s well-being. It includes, but is not limited to, decisions concerning the child’s:

  • health
  • education
  • culture
  • language
  • religion
  • spirituality
  • significant extra-curricular activities

As opposed to significant decisions, day-to-day decisions are made by the person who has parenting time with the child unless the court orders otherwise. Otherwise, parenting time does not give the parent any authority as a decision-maker.