When you have children with your ex-spouse, one of the things you have to work out is who has legal custody of your children. Legal custody is the right to make decisions about your child’s care, whether that is the decision to get them vaccinated or to start a new school sport.
Typically, it’s normal for both parents to retain legal custody over their children after a divorce, but this is with the goal of them working together. For example, both parents may agree to get their children an annual flu shot and that they will only be doing one extracurricular sport each year.
The problem occurs when one parent starts to change the rules and makes decisions without informing the other. If that happens, the parents may disagree and even end up back in court.
Who gets to make medical decisions for your child?
If both parents have legal custody, then they both get to make medical decisions. For example, if one child gets sick while at their father’s home, he would have the right to take them to the hospital and seek medical care. If the child falls and gets hurt at their mother’s home, then their mother could take them to get X-rays.
In your custody agreement and parenting plan, you should have information on how to handle these types of situations. For instance, if your child gets hurt and needs medical care, do you need to contact the other parent to agree on treatment? Can you get your child treatment first and then call the other parent to inform them that your child was sick or injured?
What you should not do is try to go behind the other parent’s back to seek medical treatments without informing the other parent. Not only is this dangerous for your child, who may not inform the other parent of new vaccinations or medications, it’s upsetting to the other parent who also has a right to be informed. If you and the other parent disagree on a treatment, work out a solution. Don’t get it anyway, because doing so could land you back in court for not listening to the other parent’s concerns and could result in the other parent seeking sole legal custody.