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Who makes medical decisions for a child after divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2024 | Child Custody

Most of the time in a divorce involving children, family courts aim to keep both parents intimately involved in all aspects of their children’s lives. 

That means that they’re likely to share both legal and physical custody of the child. Physical custody refers to which parent has the child in their possession at any given time, while legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make big decisions for their child – including those regarding medical care.

Unfortunately, parents can sometimes develop vastly different belief systems when it comes to medical care and their children. When there’s no such thing as a middle ground on an issue, what happens? 

You may have to let the court make that call

Parents sometimes end up taking deeply opposite positions on everything from whether a child should be vaccinated to whether they should be given stimulants for attention-deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may even disagree on life-saving issues like whether a child should be allowed to receive transfusions or undergo certain surgeries, especially if one parent has a religious objection. 

When there’s no room for compromise, both parents may ultimately seek sole legal custody so that they can direct their child’s care. Regardless of your position, you will need to show the court why you believe it is in your child’s best interests to grant you sole legal custody. That may mean presenting medical records, doctor’s statements and expert testimony in support of your position.

Any kind of custody battle has the potential to get very heated. If you and your co-parent are at odds about your child’s health care, you may need to act quickly to best protect your child’s well-being. 


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