Give immediate notice to other parent of children’s hospital visits and other emergencies.
Tell me if you’ve experienced anything like this: A parent takes a child on an outing at a local amusement park. While there, the child falls and suffers a severe laceration of his leg. The child is rushed to the hospital, where the parent spends six hours with him, as emergency room physicians and orthopedists x-ray him, examine him, and treat his wounds. At no time does the parent think about calling the child’s other parent.
Such behavior is unfortunately commonplace, and it often leads to another kind of emergency — an emergency motion in Family Court. When parents are divorced or separated, they must keep each other apprised of all emergencies affecting the children. They must give prompt and timely notice of such emergencies. In the scenario recounted above, the absent parent did not see the child again for two days after he was injured and treated in a hospital. She first learned about the injury when the child came home. And then, all hell broke loose between the parents.
If you’re negotiating or mediating a resolution of your child custody and visitation arrangements, be sure to include a provision that requires each parent to give the other timely notice of all emergencies, accidents, and hospital visits involving the child or the other parent. The absent parent has a right to be present at the hospital emergency room, and in fact, the child may benefit from having both parents there (provided that they can behave civilly in the child’s presence).
Failing to promptly notify the other parent of an accident or an emergency can also demonstrate a parent’s unwillingness to cooperate or communicate. By excluding the other parent, one potentially sends a number of negative messages, including the suggestion that he is hiding something or trying to cover up the child’s injury, as if to avoid being held responsible for it. None of this serves the child’s best interest, and it may leave judges and custody evaluators with doubts about a parent’s level of responsibility.
The best policy is to give prompt notice to the other parent. Focus on the child, and let the child benefit from the love and care of both of his parents.