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Who makes the call when parents disagree about medical care?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2023 | Child Custody And Visitation

You and your ex-spouse were once very in sync with each other, but things changed. Somewhere along the way, you developed different ideologies and belief systems about a lot of different things. Eventually, that led to a parting of ways.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t ended the conflicts between you. Because you share children together, you often struggle to find a middle ground on everything from what kind of diet the kids should have to how much screen time they are allowed.

What happens, then, when you hit an issue where no middle ground is possible? For example, vaccinations for common childhood illnesses can become a hot-button topic between divorced parents when one thinks they are essential safeguards and the other believes they are toxic.

It all depends on who has legal custody

When people think about “custody” of the kids, they usually think about physical custody – or where the children live most of the time. However, legal custody is the right of a parent to make important decisions on a child’s behalf, including things like their medical care. If one parent has sole legal custody of the children, they get to decide whether or not the child gets their vaccinations.

If you and your co-parent share legal custody, which is common, things get much more complicated. You need to be in agreement to move forward – or you need the court to step in and make a ruling. If that happens, you need to be able to present a strong argument, regardless of which side of the particular medical issue you’re on. That means putting together things like:

  • Your child’s medical history, if it pertains to your case (due to allergic reactions or immunological issues, for example)
  • Letters of recommendation from your child’s primary care physician regarding the medical care in question
  • Letters from any specialists that you have consulted that agree with the PCP’s recommendation

Asserting your rights to direct your child’s medical care may not be easy, but when you’re acting in your child’s best interests, it’s a necessary step. Get an early take on the issue by seeking experienced legal guidance.