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After Divorce, Which Parent Makes a Child's Healthcare Decisions?

When a divorce is finalized, the court typically assigns parental responsibility to both or – more rarely – one parent. Although parental responsibility is a matter separate from custody or time-sharing, it’s typically addressed at the same time as these matters are. Therefore, it’s important to understand what parental responsibility in Florida is, and how it can play a role in your legal situation.

What Is Parental Responsibility in Florida?

In Florida, parental responsibility refers to a parent’s ability to make important decisions for their child. Sometimes referred to as “legal custody” in other places, the scope of parental responsibility can include many important decisions that parents typically make for their children.

Among such decisions are:

  • Education
  • Religion
  • Healthcare
  • Extracurricular Activities

When a parent must make a decision in a matter that’s important to their child’s development, parental responsibility empowers them to have a say. The courts prefer to authorize shared parental responsibility, which means parents must work together to come up with the best decisions for their children.

What Happens When Parents Disagree on Healthcare Decisions?

When parents with shared parental responsibility disagree on healthcare decisions for their children, they must make good-faith efforts to reach an agreement. When parents are unable to agree on an important healthcare decision, however, they must file a petition with the court to hear the matter.

Important healthcare decisions that can come before a judge include vaccines and immunization, surgery, and medication. After evaluating evidence that may include testimony from medical experts, the court will issue a decision that it believes to align with a child’s best interests.

If a parent has sole parental responsibility, then they can make healthcare decisions alone without input from the other parent. Should the parent without responsibility disagree with the decision, they can petition the court to modify parental responsibility.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

Beatriz Zyne, P.A. understands that when it comes to making important healthcare decisions for a child after divorce, parents may feel overwhelmed and uncertain. We are committed to helping families develop strategies that can ensure the best interests of their children are taken into consideration when it comes to matters such as insurance coverage or medical treatments and procedures.

Our attorney works with parents to design tailored solutions that can enable them to make informed healthcare decisions on behalf of their children even if they no longer live together. She can also legal documents such as parental access agreements and consent forms that outline the roles and responsibilities of each parent in making healthcare-related decisions for their child going forward.

When legal conflict must be resolved in court, we can also represent parents when it comes to defending the decisions they believe are best for their children.

Learn more during an initial consultation. Contact Beatriz Zyne, P.A. today to request one.