When Divorced Parents Disagree About Children’s Medical Care
Medical conditions, especially chronic ones, do not always have one universally agreed upon method for how best to manage them. Even in cases where almost all physicians would recommend the same treatment, the decision to pursue the treatment is not always easy. For example, parents may wish to delay having a child undergo surgery because of the cost or because the child fears having to stay in the hospital for several days. Likewise, they may hesitate to start a child on a prescription drug recommended by doctors because they fear the drug’s side effects. Making decisions about managing a chronic health condition is never easy, especially when the patient is a child, but it is even more difficult when you have to make the decisions jointly with your ex-spouse, with whom you disagree about almost everything. If non-emergency medical treatment for your children is a point of contention between you and your ex-spouse, consult a South Florida family law attorney.
Spell It Out in the Parenting Plan
The parenting plan covers all aspects of co-parenting except financial ones. Many of the questions are about time sharing, such as where the children will spend religious holidays, weekdays during the school year when school is closed. The parenting plan is not only about physical custody (which parent is physically present with the children when). It is also about legal custody (which parent has the authority to make which decisions about the children). The legal custody questions in the parenting plan form related specifically to the children’s education, extracurricular activities, and non-emergency medical treatment. It is understood that, in a medical emergency, whichever parent is with the child when the medical emergency happens will seek treatment immediately, such as by going to a hospital emergency room or calling 911 or the child’s pediatrician and following the advice they receive about what to do next. If medical decisions are an especially fraught subject with your ex-spouse, you may need to go through mediation to arrive at an agreement for that aspect of your parenting plan; you should work closely with your lawyer during the process.
When Doctors Get Caught in the Middle
Angeli v. Kluka is a medical malpractice case that highlights the problems that can arise when divorced parents disagree about children’s medical treatment. The problem started when Dr. Evelyn Kluka performed adenoid removal surgery on a three-year-old patient named Alexander. She called Alexander’s father, Imad Angeli, after the surgery to report that it was a success. Angeli reacted with surprise and anger; he had not even known that Alexander would be having the surgery. He sued Dr. Kluka for performing the surgery without his consent; apparently Alexander’s mother has misled Dr. Kluka about Angeli’s consent to the surgery. The court ruled in favor of Dr. Kluka. Adenoid removal is only one possible treatment for recurrent ear infections and is not an emergency treatment. The right thing to do would have been for Alexander’s parents to reach an agreement about how to manage Alexander’s recurrent ear infections before moving forward with the surgery.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If you and your ex fundamentally disagree about how to manage your child’s chronic health condition, do not let just one parent have the final decision about non-emergency medical treatment. Contact the Boca Raton family lawyers at Schwartz | White for help today.