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Communicating about your child's medical information with an ex-spouse

Health and happiness are what most parents wish for when it comes to their children. If you could tell me that my children would grow up to be happy and healthy, I would say to you that sounds pretty darn good. Your children's health is your priority no matter what stage you are in your life or they are in their own lives.

When there are issues related to your child's health, problems may arise between you and your ex-spouse in the years after your divorce has concluded. Your ability to work with your ex-spouse can not only contribute to better lines of communication between the two of you. Still, it can also positively impact the health and safety of your children.

Today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will discuss this important subject in detail. It's easy enough to come up to better communicate with your ex-spouse about the medical issues of your children, but how do you work towards doing so? The information that we will share with you all should go a long way.

Consistency and Stability

When you and your spouse first divorced, you probably discussed how important it was to create an environment where some aspects of your children's lives would not change despite the divorce. Of course, some changes would be unavoidable, but if you and your ex-spouse could work together to come up with some things that would remain the same for your children, it would offer a sense of consistency and stability that was otherwise missing from their lives.

This consistency and stability should extend to your children's medical care as well. Suppose your child has an ongoing medical condition that had been in place while you were still married to one another. In that case, it should go without saying that allowing your child to continue to treat with the physician caring for your child throughout their life.

In some situations, it does become necessary for a child to move some distance from their home after a divorce. This means inevitably that parts of their "former" lives must get left behind as well. This includes doctors and the support system that the child had become accustomed to frequently.

While situations like this are often unavoidable, that doesn't mean that changing a new medical provider has to create upheaval. For instance, you can check with your child's physician during the divorce to let them know about the change that will be upcoming and if a move to a new area or city is necessary. The doctor may be part of a network of physicians that treat patients in your new place. Ask them for a recommendation. If you are the parent setting this meeting up, make sure that your ex-spouse is notified of the forum and has an opportunity to attend if they are able.

Secondly, suppose you and your ex-spouse believe that a change in your child's medical provider is in their best interest. In that case, it is acceptable to change the doctor as long as you have a new one selected before leaving the prior physician. To cut ties with a doctor's office only to spend months choosing a new treating provider would make absolutely no sense and would eliminate any sense of consistency and stability in your child's medical treatment. Speak to your ex-spouse about this decision and make sure that you are both on board with doing so. Attempting to make this sort of decision unilaterally can be disastrous for you, your ex-spouse, and, most importantly, for your child.

How to handle your child being referred to see a specialist

One of the nice things about having a physician treat your child whom you and your ex-spouse have a lot of trust in that physician's treatment regimen for your child as well as for their ability to recommend and refer your child to other physicians who may be able to offer treatment in certain specialized areas. In this way, your physician acts like a quarterback- sending assignments out to other players on your child's medical team. When everyone works together, the goals of the group can be accomplished.

These specialist physicians will send reports back to your primary physician, who will confer with the specialists on courses of treatment and other subject matter relevant to your child. However, if you and your child are on vacation and your child suffers a health-related incident that requires care in an emergency room, those reports may not make their way back to your primary physician at home. This can cause problems in diagnosing what is wrong with your child and ensuring that it does not happen again.

Communication breakdowns can lead to medical problems for your child.

Another situation that can lead to disunity among the medical community treating your child is when you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a primary care provider for your child. Each of you ends up taking your child to two different physicians. In some situations, this is a necessity, however. If you and your ex-spouse reside a long way apart, it may not make sense for your ex-spouse to drive hundreds of miles to your town for your child to see their primary care doctor. In that situation, it would make more sense to have your child see a different doctor, if only for convenience's sake.

Even if there is justification for your child having more than one primary care physician, that is not an excuse for there not to be communication regarding all aspects of your child's treatment network. In a situation where your child is treated even semi-regularly with a doctor who is not their primary care physician, you or your ex-spouse must make sure that whatever medical reports are being generated are sent to the primary care doctor so that the "quarterback" knows what play to call next.

Parents both attending the medical appointments of a child

I was at a doctor's appointment for my daughter a few weeks ago when I overheard a woman in the parking lot talking on her cell phone. The woman repeated that she hated to call the constables out, but "he" was acting belligerently. When my daughter and I got out from her appointment, there were constables inside the doctor's office speaking to a man I assumed was the "he" the woman was talking about. This was pretty clearly divorced parents getting into an argument at the doctor's appointment for a child.

You and your ex-spouse will both want to fully engage in your child's life even after the divorce. You may just be putting up with one another, and that's fine. Nobody said it has to be honey and sunshine between the two of you. However, this can lead to issues like the one I mentioned above when both of you are present in a doctor's office with your child. A doctor's office can entirely create rules for the safety and well-being of not only your child but for their other patients. That may mean that if you and your ex-spouse get into a dispute of some sort that you both will not be allowed to attend treatment sessions together.

More on issues regarding medical care to be posted tomorrow in our blog

Caring for your child's well-being is job number one of you, your ex-spouse, the court that oversaw your divorce, as well as your child's network of medical providers. If you have a child with ongoing medical problems, you will want to come back tomorrow to read more on this subject.

In the meantime, if you have questions related to your child's medical care after your divorce, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys can meet with you six days a week for a free-of-charge consultation.

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