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Do I need to check with my co-parent before taking my child to the doctor?

| Jun 16, 2021 | Child Custody |

You likely didn’t hesitate when it came to taking your child to the doctor when things were going well in your marriage. You may wonder if things have changed now that you and your co-parent share custody, though.

Both spouses enjoy full parental rights to make unilateral decisions on their child’s behalf when they’re married. Custodial arrangements that spouses enter into once they separate and divorce can limit their rights to make unilateral decisions about their children.

How do custodial arrangements affect my ability to make certain decisions on behalf of my kids?

There are two types of custodial arrangements in Maryland, including sole or joint custody. Parents can also have physical and/or legal custody of their child. Joint legal custody, for example, can give both parents equal rights to make childrearing decisions, such as religious, educational and medical ones, on behalf of their child.

The family law judge presiding over your custody case will likely advise you of your responsibility to consult with one another regarding any major decisions about your child as a condition of awarding you joint custody.

How joint custody arrangements affect your ability to procure medical care for your child

Most schools or medical facilities will ask about custodial arrangements when they learn that a child’s parents are separating or divorcing. They’ll likely require both of you to sign a consent for treatment before initiating any medical care. They may even ask to see your parenting plan to verify that you have the legal authority to consent to your child’s medical care.

What happens if I sidestep my custodial rights and get my child medical care without my co-parent’s consent?

You run the risk of putting your custodial rights at risk if you make unilateral medical decisions on behalf of your child without your co-parent’s consent. The only situation in which a judge may not penalize you for doing so is your child requires life-saving emergency medical care.

It can be a bit jarring going from unilaterally making medical decisions on behalf of your child when married to having to jump through hoops when separated or divorced. Custody modifications are possible in certain situations. You may want to continue reading our website to learn when they may be warranted.