They have to decide with the schools, whether they’re going to be public or private. The court cannot send a child to private without the parent’s consent or force them to pay for it. There’s school, there’s whether the kid needs IEPs. Does the kid need a tutor? All those things roll into the education decisions. On the religion front, we look at did the parties practice religion during the course of the marriage, and if they did, we should keep that going. If they didn’t, we should say whether they’ll be raised in the Christian faith, raised in no faith – whatever it is. We don’t even have to address religion if we don’t want to.
As far as medical decisions are concerned, obviously dental, medical, psychological, psychiatric – all of those are major decisions to mak. Whether or not to put a kid on drugs for ADD is a big thing that people fight about a lot. Extracurricular activities usually boil down to timing, how much time is going to be taken away from the other parent. But if you look at this and you say, “Okay, if we were still married, would we be taking our kids to the soccer games? Of course we would. So, why wouldn’t we do it now? It’s that kind of stuff that you try to put the focus back on the kids and say this is what my kid needs. We should make this decision in the best interest of the kid and not based on money, time, or anything else.
With 30 years of experience in family law, Laura M. Urbik Kern is a certified mediator and family lawyer who concentrates on dissolution, family and juvenile law, child support, and complex domestic relations cases.