Make Sure You Know Your Child’s Doctors, and They Know You!
Whenever parents are embroiled in a child custody fight, or a dispute over visitation rights, the court will inquire into what arrangement serves the “best interest” of the child. But how do we know what is in a child’s best interest? What exactly do those terms mean?
The “best interest” test really boils down to a number of questions: What is in the child’s best educational interest? What is in the child’s best spiritual interest? What is in the child’s best medical interest? …and so forth. One of the most important ways of measuring what is in a child’s best interest is to consider which parent provides the most day-to-day contact with the child’s doctors, dentists and other health care providers. By gauging a parent’s involvement with physicians and day-to-day health issues for the children, a court can establish one important criterion for determining the “best interest” of the child.
In most cases, the custodial parent takes the responsibility for getting the children to and from their checkups and other doctor’s appointments. To strengthen their positions, custodial parents should give timely notice to non-custodial parents of all doctor’s visits, and then keep track as to whether the non-custodial parents participate in the doctor’s visits, contact the doctor directly before or after the visit, or otherwise inquire about the visit. By tracking the non-custodial parent’s participation levels and response rate, the custodial parent will be able to argue, if necessary, that the non-custodial parent was disinterested in, or detached from, the child’s health care.
If you are a non-custodial parent, you may find that you can strengthen your claim for custody, joint custody, or visitation rights by remaining actively involved in the children’s health care. Attending doctor’s visits, communicating with physicians and office staff regularly, reading doctor’s notes and reports and becoming familiar with the children’s prescriptions will also serve to demonstrate that you are connected with the best medical interests of the children.