The ability to make significant decisions about the child is typically is defined by the parenting plan. Significant decisions include education, non-emergency medical decisions, and religious upbringing. You can add others to the list, but Washington law requires that all parenting plans have a specific provision dealing with these three. That means, if the parents can’t make a decision together, the court may have to intervene.
In terms of education and non-emergency medical decisions, the court can be a good tie-breaker. There is usually one point of view that makes sense or that the parties will be able to live with. For example, one parent might be allowed to enroll the child in private school against the other parent’s wishes, but the parent that wants private school will have to pay for it and the other parent could be off the hook.
When it comes to religious upbringing, however, the Court must consider a parent’s rights under the constitution. A judge cannot force you to allow your child to convert to a new religion or participate in a new religion’s sacraments. But you also can’t stop your spouse from taking your child to the Baptist, Hindu, or Mormon church on their time, either. Each parent has the right to teach their child about their deeply held religious beliefs, and as long as the child will not be in any physical danger, the court will not interfere.
If you are dealing with difficult issues regarding the upbringing of your child and cooperating with your ex partner, Pacific Northwest Family Law can help. We know how to handle all of the different issues that Washington custody cases involve, including issues related to a child’s upbringing. We understand how emotional and stressful these types of cases can be, which is why we are here to help guide you through your custody proceedings, whether they stem from a divorce, a paternity action, or a post-decree modification proceeding. Contact our offices today to set up an appointment with one of our Washington custody lawyers and see what we can do to help with your case.