Parents who are legally separated or newly divorced often find out that they’ve ventured into uncharted territory once they try to take their child somewhere for medical care.
It’s often when they attempt to schedule an appointment with a doctor or therapist that they’re bombarded with questions about who has custody and about the type of arrangements that they have. Your parenting plan can greatly impact who can consent to your child’s treatment, who pays for their care and who can access their records.
Doctors and other medical providers are often hesitant to see a child without first requesting to see any court orders in their custody case. They tend to want to view these not because they’re nosy, but instead because they don’t want to have an angry parent call them up or sue them for having prescribed medication or performed a procedure without their consent.
In this day and age, the onus falls on the medical providers to verify that the parent calling to make an appointment is legally authorized to consent to their child’s care. For them to determine this, they must look at court documents to see who has legal and physical custody of the child.
A parent who is awarded physical custody of their child is allowed to keep them under their supervision. It doesn’t necessarily entitle them to give consent for their care though. Only a parent who retains legal custody is authorized to do this.
Once a parent is awarded legal custody, they are generally able to make health, religious and education decisions for their child. This means that they’ll serve as the primary contact person for the medical providers and that they’ll be consulted to provide consent for treatment on their child’s behalf. They can authorize the release of their medical records to third parties as well. One or both parents may be awarded legal custody of their kids.
If you and your ex have separated and you share kids with one another, then it’s important that you both sit down with a child custody attorney. They can help you negotiate an agreement with one another about whether you’ll share sole or joint legal and physical custody of your child. This will allow you to be more prepared when you take them to the doctor or to another Florida medical provider for treatment.