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Who makes a child’s medical decisions after their parents divorce?

Parents need to make medical decisions for their young children, regardless of their marital status. One of the first examples of this is deciding what vaccines a newborn should get and when he or she should get them. Traditionally, parents just work together and get the advice of the pediatrician. 

But what if you and the child’s other parent are no longer together? And what if you want a type of medical care for your child that the other parent is staunchly against? Can you make that decision on your own? 

How was legal custody divided?

The real question to ask here is what your divorce agreement says about legal custody. This is the ability of the parents to make choices for their children. Note that legal custody is separate from physical custody, which refers to where the child lives. You can have both or you can be granted one and not the other. 

If you have sole legal custody, even if you share physical custody, then you can make the decision you want, no matter what your ex decides. They do not get a say. However, if you share legal custody, then you have to talk to them and you cannot legally go behind their back and make these decisions yourself. Doing so violates your ex’s right to be involved in this process. 

Naturally, if only your ex has legal custody, then they can make whatever decision they want, without your input. If this situation starts to grow contentious, make sure you are well aware of all of the options that you have. If you and your co-parent are at odds over a child’s medical care, it may be time to seek legal assistance.