An Attorney Who Has Walked In Your Shoes

Can your ex make emergency decisions for your child?

Parents have the ability to make emergency decisions for their children. Say your child is involved in a car accident while coming home from school. They get badly injured and they’re rushed to the hospital. You can talk to the doctors about what type of care you want the child to receive, as he or she is a minor under your control. 

But what if you got divorced? Maybe your child lives with you most of the time, but they see your ex on the weekends. If something happens while the child is with your ex, can they make those emergency decisions? Or do they need to get in touch with you before the doctors can do anything?

It depends on the custody arrangement. Remember that there are two types of custody: Physical and legal. They are not the same and could get divided differently. In this example, you share physical custody because the child lives with you during the week and with your ex on the weekend. Even if it’s not 50/50, that’s still shared custody. 

Odds are that means you also share legal custody, so you can both make decisions on the child’s behalf — including medical decisions. However, it is possible for a court to give just one parent legal custody, even while splitting physical custody, if they believe that doing so is in the child’s best interests. 

The key, then, is to know exactly what the court decided at the time of the divorce and how that impacts your rights. If you’re concerned about that for any reason, it may help to talk with experienced individuals who know the ins and outs of the law.