When you are married, making medical decisions for a minor child can be rather straightforward. But when you are divorced, the medical decisions that are made for your child can become a point of contention and can even lead to a change in custody.
Sole Legal Custody
When the courts award sole legal custody, only one parent has custody of the minor. When one parent does not have custody, he or she still has the right to be told about the medical decisions that the other parent makes on behalf of the child.
Joint Legal Custody
With most cases, both parents will have joint custody. When a parent needs to make an emergency medical decision, the parent who is with the child makes this decision. However, for other types of treatment, it may be much more difficult to come to an agreement.
One example of a difficult problem to resolve is if a child appears to have a psychiatric condition that could be treated with a medication. However, the medication might also come with potentially harmful side effects. One parent might not agree that the medication is safe or necessary.
When you cannot resolve the issue, the courts may appoint a law guardian who will inform the judge about which decision is in the best interest of the child. Also, the outcome of the conflict might even lead to changes in the custody arrangement.
Changes in Custody
In some cases, one parent might file for full custody on the basis that the other parent is delaying a necessary medical treatment. Regardless of the circumstances, the judge is responsible for determining what is in the best interest of the child.
A joint custody typically is only beneficial when both parents are able to resolve differences on their own. Both parents may be warned that either of them might lose custody if they fail to learn how to resolve differences. In some cases, the courts might determine that one parent is not fit to have custody of the child after ordering a custody evaluation.
Child Custody Evaluations
A child custody evaluation is a mental health professional evaluates your child, your co-parent and yourself to make a recommendation to the courts regarding custody. The goal is to determine what will be the best for the child.
The Best Interests of the Child
A decision is considered in the best interests of the child if a particular parent is meeting the special physical and mental needs of the child and will also sometimes take into consideration the wishes of the child.
Your Child’s Medical Plan
If you do not want to have the courts involved, one solution is to try to have a joint conversation with the professional involved in the decision to perform the medical treatment. There, the professional can answer any questions that you both have and can help calm your fears. Also, you should consider having a discussion with your ex-partner that is facilitated by a legal team.
The best way to avoid disagreements during an emergency is to reach an agreement beforehand. For example, if you have a child who has a heart condition, you should both agree ahead of time to pursue a specific heart surgery. You’ll want to work out the circumstances in which the child should be taken to the doctor and create a list of approved medical professionals that the child can see.
If you are still struggling to resolve a dispute involving a medical decision that must be made on behalf of your child, you should consider contacting the Law Offices of Lynda Latta LLC. Our law office specializes in all aspects of family law.