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When Divorced Parents Disagree on Medical Decisions

Parents who are raising children together often find they disagree on critical decisions regarding the lives and health of their kids. When these parents divorce, they must find creative solutions for preserving their child’s best interest and keeping the channels of communication open. When a child’s health and well-being are at issue, this process can become contentious.

Medical issues

Some areas of controversy among parents can be life-threatening while others are less urgent. During the critical years of early childhood development, these specific issues can be particularly provocative:


There are extensive and compelling arguments both for and against the routine vaccination of children. There might not be a perfect resolution to the debate in the near future. Most vaccines can be delayed without harm until the parents are able to reach an agreement.

Psychiatric medications

Childhood depression and anxiety disorders are being diagnosed far earlier and more frequently than ever before. A new generation of serotonin-reuptake drugs tempts many physicians and psychiatrists into medicating children. Treatment can seem both potentially helpful and terrifying to parents.


Some parents object to the routine use of this and other stimulants for management of ADHD, while others see it as a godsend. In many cases, children as young as 7 or 8 years old can voice an opinion about taking medication since it affects their overall health in addition to behavior.

In times of emergency

When a child requires immediate medical intervention in a hospital, it might not be possible to consult both custodial parents. In times of critical care one parent might have to rely on the judgment of an attending physician to decide on appropriate interventive measures.

As in all legal issues related to childrearing, if parents do not agree and pursue the opinion of a judge, such decisions are made based on the best interest of the child alone. Parents’ disagreements based on religious, ethical, medical or philosophical grounds may or may not be considered in a judgment.

Your family law attorney can advocate for your beliefs and your desire to do the right thing for your child. We are available to represent you and assist you in reaching any decision regarding your child’s welfare.

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