Divorced parents Carlos and Sarah were able to handle disagreements about raising their two children – usually amicably. But they finally reached a potential impasse when trying to make healthcare decisions. Often, decisions about medical treatment are time-sensitive. Therefore, Carlos and Sarah needed to deal with their disagreement about healthcare as quickly as possible.
It’s a Question of Custody
In California, judges award custody to divorce parents as follows:
- Legal Custody. Joint legal custody gives both parents the right to make health, education, and welfare decisions for the children. Sole legal custody means only one parent has the right and responsibility to make these decisions.
- Physical Custody. As with joint legal custody, divorced parents with joint physical custody share parenting time. A parent with sole physical custody has the children most of the time, with periodic visits to the other parent.
What matters with healthcare decisions is how the judge awarded legal custody. With joint legal custody, each parent has an equal say in healthcare decisions. A parent with sole legal custody has the authority to make the children’s medical decisions.
However, sole legal custody does not mean the parent without custody has no options at all.
When Divorced Parents Cannot Settle Disagreements About Healthcare…
Their first action should be to contact their respective attorneys. They can discuss the basis for the disagreement and discover their options.
For example, parents who disagree about any aspect of childcare might be able to negotiate an agreement. But if that fails, one or both parents could ask for court intervention. A judge could decide the issue for them. However, it is usually best for divorced parents to settle any parenting issues on their own.
Amending Custody Is Another Option for Divorced Parents
In some cases, asking the court to make one decision might not be enough. Instead, the parents might need to revisit their custody arrangements.
Judges look at many factors before awarding custody, including:
- The child’s age and health,
- Any emotional ties between child and parents,
- Each parent’s ability to take care of the child,
- Evidence of family violence or substance abuse, and
- Any ties to the school, home, or community.
At some point, divorced parents might feel that their situation has changed. A modification of the custody order might be warranted. If so, an attorney can help the parent ask the court for a new custody arrangement.
Divorced Parents Often Need Help with Custody Disputes
But they are still parents, first and foremost. It’s crucial to children’s success to make decisions based on their best interests. When parents are unable to do so, judges sometimes must step in.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.