Rights Regarding Child Care in Dual-Custody Arrangements

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Figuring out the fine print associated with dual or joint custody of your kids can be a challenging task, especially for newly divorced or separated parents who are adjusting to sharing custody. Since each child-custody case is unique, many judges require families to come up with a parenting plan, which includes details regarding child care and child care payments when necessary. Along with deciding on the specifics in shared-custody cases, keep in mind certain general rights regarding child care in cases of dual custody.

Who Gets to Decide?

In cases of dual custody, whether they are joint legal custody, joint physical custody or both, parents share the decision-making responsibilities for their children, according to NOLO, a site that provides one of the web's largest libraries of consumer-friendly legal information. Both parents have a right to be involved in decisions regarding who will watch their children in their absence -- a private babysitter, a day care or an after-school care facility. In the best scenarios, parents should be able to come up with an arrangement both parties feel is suitable. According to the experts at MyFamilyLaw.com, if one parent puts a child under third-party care without consulting the other, the uninformed parent has the right to discontinue the child care and may file a motion with the court because it was not agreed upon.

Who Has to Pay?

In most instances, dual custody implies an equal sharing of all responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, says the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. In the original parenting plan, parents should explicitly address the issue of sharing the costs of child care. However, payment of child care in emergency or day-to-day situations is the responsibility of the parent who has the child at the time. For example, if a parent is called in to work on a weekend when she has the kids and needs to hire a babysitter, she can't expect the other parent to pay for half the cost of the babysitter.

Who Can Pick Kids Up?

The matter of children being released to parents from child care facilities varies depending on the type of custody. As suggested by the Child Care Law Center, parents should provide copies of all legal documents concerning custody, including parenting schedules, to clarify details and specifications for child care providers. If dual custody is only physical custody, as compared to both physical and legal custody, only the parent with physical custody at the time in question has the right to make decisions about child pickup. While the other parent may have personal objections about who is picking up his child -- in the case of an ex's significant other or family members, for instance -- child care facilities are legally required to release children to a person as long as he is listed on the authorized pickup list. In cases of joint legal custody, both parents can make decisions about who can pick up their kids from day care.

What to Keep in Mind

When making decisions about child care, as well as all other decisions in dual-custody arrangements, parents should keep the best interests of their children in mind first. Often, parents in joint custody situations become preoccupied by their feelings of disdain for the other person and forget that the well-being of their kids should be the most important thing. Parents should make their best attempts to cooperate with one another, if only to lessen some of the burden on their kids.