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Who Is Responsible For Supplying Medications During Visitation?

July 1, 2018

When couples divorce and have to make custody and visitation agreements, one of the biggest obstacles is the child’s health. If the child has one or a variety of medical conditions that require medication, it’s important to ensure they will be given these medications during visitations with their non-custodial parent. But sometimes, questions arise as to which parent is responsible for supplying medications during these visitations. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some important facts to keep in mind.

Custodial Parents
In virtually all of these situations, the custodial parent is deemed to be responsible for supplying all necessary medications for the child during their visitations with the non-custodial parent. However, there are times when the non-custodial parent may be expected to supply the medications, and these are usually spelled out in the custody order. For example, if arrangements have been made for the child to spend a lengthy amount of time with the non-custodial parent, such as during summer break from school, the custody order may specify that this parent will be responsible for supplying and helping administer all prescribed medications during this time.

Avoiding Medical Disputes
While most typical custody orders contain information about how parents will pay for a child’s health insurance, how they will split the costs of medical bills, and other related areas, they often fail to clearly spell out which parent will be responsible for the child’s medications. Because of this, disputes often arise, particularly if an incident occurs due to a child not receiving their medication during a visitation. Therefore, when working out a custody order, it’s always best to consult with a family law attorney who has experience dealing with these matters. By doing so, incidents such as this can be avoided, and your child’s health will be maintained in the best possible way.

Be As Detailed As Possible
To further avoid disputes regarding medications, always be as detailed and specific as possible when finalizing a custody order. For example, while most medical issues contained in custody orders are considered open-ended, it’s still important to include as many details as possible regarding which parent is responsible for certain aspects of the child’s medical care. Some of the most common include circumstances that will result in a child requiring a doctor visit, having a list of approved physicians and hospitals, and requirements for parents to share the child’s medical records with one another within a specified time after a doctor visit.

Changing the Custody Order
If the custodial parent deems it to be necessary, they can work with their family law attorney to have the court change the original custody order to reflect changes in their child’s medical needs. For example, one of the most common reasons for these requests involves one parent accusing the other of failing to give the child prescribed medications when they are needed. This can apply to either parent, and is an issue taken very seriously by the court. Because of this, never make these allegations unless you have the evidence to back up your claims. If you do, and the court later determines you were lying, you could potentially put your entire custody order in jeopardy. Generally, most courts won’t move to change custody orders unless there is clear and compelling evidence that the child’s welfare is being put at risk by one parent. However, if a child testifies they are not being properly cared for during visitation, or medical records indicate a pattern of one parent failing to properly give medications during visitations, the court will make a ruling based on what is best for the child.

What Happens in an Emergency?
If your child is involved in a medical emergency during a visitation, most states have laws in place allowing the non-custodial parent to seek immediate medical care by calling for an ambulance or taking the child to a hospital emergency room. However, if this is done, and then it is later determined the medical emergency was caused by the non-custodial parent’s failure to provide medications to the child, the custodial parent will then have several legal options available to them. These can include filing for a temporary restraining order or emergency custody motion, and even reporting the incident to local police and child welfare officials. In the most extreme situations, the court may deem the non-custodial parent to be too great a risk to the child’s well-being, and choose to suspend their visitation rights indefinitely until an investigation by police and child protective service workers can be completed.

Questions to Ask Your Attorney
If you know your child’s health will be an issue regarding custody and visitations, always make these concerns known to your family law attorney when beginning to put together a custody agreement. By doing so, you can often avoid many common problems associated with this issue, giving parents and the child peace of mind. For example, if you and your spouse have had problems in the past agreeing on your child’s medical treatment, it’s often best to seek to have complete authority over all decision-making regarding your child’s health. Also, if your spouse has also been negligent in giving your child medications in the past, make that known to your attorney as well. Since ultimately everyone wants the child to be as healthy and happy as possible, taking care of these details will help avoid many unnecessary problems.

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