In situations where parents have joint legal custody, each parent has a right to exercise reasonable parental discretion when the child is in their care. People divorce, or do not remain in a relationship, because, often, they have differences in opinions (i.e., "irreconcilable differences"). It is not surprising, therefore, that disagreements over parenting styles are commonplace. In our legal system, courts are flooded with cases involving ex-spouses fighting over what they feel is best for their children.
In a recent case, a father petitioned the court stating that the mother abused her parental discretion and made an inappropriate decision by bringing their 11 year old daughter to a PINK concert. That petition resulted in a 37-page ruling from the judge that has received national exposure.
The judge ruled that the mother had the right to take the child to the concert, under the specific facts of the case. He noted that he spoke directly to the child and heard the mother's reason for taking the child. The judge noted that while Pink does have some suggestive elements to her music, her music isn't necessarily inappropriate for preteens.
The judge wrote, "[The mother's] decision did not subject the child to any unreasonable risk of harm, or compromise [her] health, safety or welfare," Jones wrote. "To the contrary, when all the smoke from the custody litigation clears, it will be self-evident that all which happened here is that a young girl went to her first rock concert with her mother and had a really great time."
While it is true that there is judicial authority to protect a child, this authority should not be misinterpreted as an open invitation for a parent to come to court on "best interests" grounds to unreasonably challenge, restrict or infringe upon the other parent's right to a certain degree of parental discretion during his or her own parenting time.
Co-Parenting with an ex is difficult. Parents must understand, however, the each parent has a right to exercise reasonable parental discretion over a child's activities during their parenting time free from unreasonable interference or attempted control by the other parent.
If you are having issues co-parenting with your ex, contact a family law attorney today to review your rights.