loader image
Close this search box.

When parents disagree about a child’s medical care


How to Manage Medication Disagreements in Joint Custody

Can one parent keep medication away from a child?

Managing medication for children with ADHD and other special needs can be challenging, particularly in joint custody situations where parents may disagree on treatment approaches. Attorney Billie Tarascio of Modern Law recently addressed a complex case involving a 17-year-old with ADHD and autism, highlighting the intricacies and legal considerations when parents have conflicting views on medication.

The Case Overview

In this case, the stepmother of a 17-year-old boy with ADHD and a learning disability shares her experience. The boy’s father, her husband, started him on ADHD medication to help manage his behavior and school performance, despite the biological mother’s opposition. The parents share 50/50 legal decision-making, but the boy primarily resides with his father. Recently, the father and stepmother requested an increase in the medication dosage, leading to heightened conflict with the mother, who canceled a medication check-up and opposed any medication use.

Key Questions and Legal Insights

Can One Parent Unilaterally Decide on Medication?

In joint legal decision-making, both parents must be involved in major decisions, including medication changes. It was inappropriate for the father and stepmother to request a dosage increase without consulting the mother. Effective communication between co-parents is essential, especially regarding significant health decisions.

Can a Parent Prevent Medication Administration?

No, one parent cannot unilaterally prevent the other from administering prescribed medication. Joint legal decision-making requires cooperation and adherence to prescribed treatments unless there is a mutual agreement or a court order stating otherwise.

Should the Father Seek Sole Legal Decision-Making?

Given the child’s age, pursuing sole legal decision-making might not be practical. At 17, the child is close to adulthood and should start being involved in decisions about his health and medication. This involvement can help him learn self-advocacy and manage his ADHD independently in the future.

Practical Advice for Parents

Engage in Open Communication:

Regular discussions between co-parents about the child’s health and education are crucial. Transparency helps ensure that both parents are on the same page and can make informed decisions together.

Involve the Child in Decisions:

Given the impact of ADHD medication on daily life, involving the child in discussions about their treatment can be beneficial. Encouraging the child to journal about their experiences with medication can provide valuable insights and foster self-awareness.

Consider Mediation:

When conflicts arise, mediation can be a helpful tool. A neutral third party can assist parents in reaching a consensus that prioritizes the child’s well-being.

Legal Considerations:

If conflicts persist and significantly impact the child’s health, seeking legal advice or court intervention may be necessary. However, this should be a last resort, especially for older teens nearing adulthood.

Managing disagreements over medication in joint custody arrangements requires careful consideration, open communication, and often, professional guidance. At Modern Law, the focus is on supporting families through these challenges with a balanced approach that prioritizes the child’s best interests. By fostering cooperation and involving the child in their health decisions, parents can help their children develop the skills they need to manage their conditions effectively as they transition into adulthood.

For more insights and personalized advice on family law matters, call our office to speak with one of our client advocates, or make an appointment for a consultation.


Recent Posts
Follow Us