Being a parent can be difficult at times. This can be especially true for unmarried or divorced parents trying to co-parent effectively when they do not see eye-to-eye over important issues such as their child’s medical care.
Disagreements may arise over simple preventative care measures or over treatment if there is a sudden illness or injury. Disagreements may also be common when a child has ongoing or long-term medical needs. Conflicts may come up over who is going to pay for medical treatment, over which medical provider will treat the child and even over the treatment options available to the child.
Which parent gets to make medical decisions for the child under Texas child custody laws?
The child custody agreement will outline how parents should make medical decisions on behalf of their children. If there is no child custody agreement in place, establishing one will be the first step.
Conservatorship is the aspect of child custody that addresses which parent makes decisions about things like education, religion or medical care. In some cases, one parent is named the sole managing conservator. That parent then has the right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s medical care. In other cases, both parents are named joint managing conservators, in which case they need to work together to make medical decisions for their child.
What to do when you disagree about medical care
First of all, just because the other parent is sole managing conservator does not necessarily give them free reign when making medical decisions for their child. While they have the legal right to make the final decision, they should still be seeking input from the other parent if the other parent is willing and able to provide it. If you believe that sole managing conservator is making decisions that are harmful, not in the child’s best interest or against doctor’s orders, you may be able to challenge the current child custody agreement.
Similarly, just because parents have the right to work together to make medical decisions as joint managing conservators does not mean they have the ability. Perhaps you have tried to discuss the matter with the other parent and they refuse to see reason, and you are not willing to compromise when the health and wellbeing of your child are at stake. In these cases, the matter may need to be taken in front of a judge to make a determination, or child custody arrangements may need to be modified.