Typically, when divorcing parents choose to share physical custody of their children, they also share legal custody. The latter involves who makes decisions that affect crucial areas of a child’s life – like education, religious upbringing and medical care.
You can work out your legal custody arrangement as you choose. For example, you may require that you both have a say in major (non-emergency) medical decisions, like whether your child has surgery or starts taking a new medication and the selection of a new pediatrician or specialist, if needed.
Of course, you should also work out how the cost of your child’s medical care (including insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses) will be divided and reimbursed. You may also determine that if only one parent wants an elective treatment – like Invisalign – they will foot the bill.
Co-parenting a child with ongoing treatment needs
If your child is dealing with a chronic or serious medical or mental health condition, it may also be helpful to include some provisions about treatment and care in your parenting plan. This can help you and your child’s other parent agree on some expectations and identify areas that may require some discussion and compromise later.
Your family’s situation may involve conditions from asthma to ADHD to celiac disease to a heart defect. Even if your child doesn’t have ongoing issues, it may still be worthwhile to outline whether both of you will accompany your child for checkups and other medical appointments.
Sharing your child’s health information is critical
Finally, it’s wise to state how you’ll communicate with each other about your child’s condition or other health-related matters so that you both stay informed. This approach can help you to provide the best possible care when your child is with you and your co-parent alike. Oftentimes, a shared online journal in a co-parenting app works well and minimizes direct communication.
Certainly, every child is unique, as is their parents’ divorce. How you choose to handle your child’s physical and mental health needs as co-parents will be up to you. Seeking sound legal guidance can help you do what’s best for your child.