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What happens when parents disagree over a child’s medical care?

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2021 | Family Law

Simply because a divorce is final does not mean that the two parents will be free from conflict. In fact, certain situations can open old wounds, and the two parties may find themselves locked in a complex disagreement over what will happen to their child. This is common in situations when divorced or separated parents disagree over a child’s medical care.  

Most medical care providers have policies and procedures in place for dealing with these types of situations. It will be in your interests as a parent to know what to expect from your child’s doctor and how to protect your parental rights. In the midst of these difficult situations, it may be helpful to understand how to best protect the best interests and long-term health of your child. 

Common procedures for care providers 

Texas pediatricians and care providers likely have procedures and policies in place that outline how they will care for patients with separated and divorced parents who may be in disagreement. Common policies may include some of the following: 

  • It may be a requirement to provide legal documentation before accessing their child’s medical records.  
  • Both parents could have equal access to records and decision-making prior to any final legal order. 
  • If a non-custodial parent wants access or information, the custodial parent may have to provide that in writing. 
  • Unless legal documents prohibit it, either parent may be able to make appointments for unexpected sickness and other medical needs. 
  • If one parent makes an appointment, there is likely no obligation on the part of the care provider to notify the other parent. 
  • If there is a disagreement over care plans, the doctor may defer to the parent with legal custody.  

Disagreement over medical treatment can place medical care providers in a difficult situation. They will likely defer to the terms of the custody and visitation order or any court order that pertains to the child’s medical needs. As a parent, you may find it helpful to remember that the child’s physical health is the main priority. 

A legal resolution 

In some cases, it is necessary to pursue a legal resolution to disagreements over medical care. If you believe your child’s well-being is at stake, you have the right as a concerned parent to pursue a beneficial outcome. When considering custody terms during your divorce, it will be prudent to understand how legal custody works and what that could mean for your authority over important decisions for your child.