When it comes to your children, their health and well-being are always top priority. When two parents disagree on the health and medical decisions surrounding their child, it can lead to intense disputes – and for good reason. Making the wrong decision could put your child at risk.

Divorced or separated parents have a much harder time navigating these decisions, as many find it harder to collaborate and agree on all health-related decisions. When you disagree with the other parent’s decisions, what can you do?

What does your custody order say?

The first thing you should look at is your custody agreement. Some custody orders outline who has medical decision-making power.

If it does not assign medical decision-making authority, see who has legal custody. In some cases, one parent will have legal custody of the child, giving them the final say on major healthcare decisions. But in most cases, parents share joint legal custody. In these instances, parents typically must come to an agreement regarding medical decisions.

It’s important to note that in medical emergencies, either parent may be able to make urgent medical decisions on their own according to their best judgment.

What options do you have?

Your options depend on the circumstances of your custody order.

  • If you have decision making power and the other parent disagrees, it is best to work with them to find a resolution that you are both agreeable to. Ultimately, however, the decision is yours to make.
  • If you have joint legal custody and are unable to come to an agreement with the other parent, you may have to go through mediation to resolve these disagreements. Alternatively, you could agree to have a neutral third party decide for you. In drastic situations, the court may decide on your behalf.
  • If the other parent has decision-making power and you disagree with their choices, you aren’t left with many options. If you have very serious concerns about the health and well-being of your child, it may be worth opening a case to modify your custody order so you can fight for more decision-making authority.

There are a wide range of factors to consider when making medical decisions for your child. Effective co-parenting is essential to protect your child’s health and well-being. But if the other parent is making decisions that put your child’s health at risk, you unfortunately may have no choice but to pursue legal action to protect them.