Legal custody of a child and the physical custody of a child aren’t the same things. No matter how your parenting time is allocated, shared legal custody means that both you and your co-parent are equal partners when it comes to making major decisions for your child — and that includes medical decisions.
So what happens when co-parents who share legal custody don’t share the same convictions and beliefs and can’t come to an agreement on what medical care their child needs?
Disputes over vaccines, blood transfusions and more are common
This often happens when it comes to things like vaccinations, particularly if one parent is a skeptic about their safety and one is not.
It can also happen, however, over things like blood transfusions (which one parent may be opposed to based on religion), treatment for gender dysphoria and mental health care. It can even happen over a child’s dietary needs if one parent is staunchly vegan and the other is not.
Parents have also gone to war over whether a child should receive standard medical care for certain serious health problems or holistic treatments instead.
You can’t count on the idea that your co-parent’s values and beliefs regarding medical care will align with your own when you establish your custody arrangements. The odds are high that you wouldn’t be divorced if you were fully in agreement over most things. A dispute of this nature may be unresolvable without court intervention — and that may include everything from statements from your child’s doctor to expert medical testimony.
The outcome of your disagreement could have lifelong consequences for your child, so make sure you take immediate steps to find out your legal options.