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Law Talk

Shared Health Care Decisions

Shared Health Care Decisions

Vaccinations have been a source of controversy for many years and have spiked again due to an increase in reported measles cases.  According to the Center for Disease Control or CDC, “Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.  One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97% effective. In the United States, widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era”.  Measles is just an example but even with these statistics, parents are opting not to vaccinate their children.  Some worry about the side effects, others turn to their faith for direction.  All viewpoints are important in making medical decisions for children when parents separate or divorce”.

The ideal way to address medical concerns is to include them in the parenting plan.  Specifically reflect which parent is responsible for seeking medical treatment or preventative care and include vaccinations, life support and other health and safety concerns that are applicable to the child and for notifying the other parent. Florida law does not grant one parent with more authority than the other.  Parental responsibility is defined as “shared” pursuant to Florida Statute §61.13(2)(c)(2) (2014), “the court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.”

A clearly worded provision in the parenting plan should control but a judge will ultimately determine the outcome if the parents cannot agree at considerable more financial and economic cost. The judge may not rule on the specific concern i.e., vaccinations but rather decide which parent will and how carry out the medical attention in the best interests of the child. Not only will it be more costly but it will delay the medical attention for the child which may be time sensitive.

An experienced family law attorney can advise and guide parents in creating the “right” medical decisions for their children and how to properly express them.  As a state certified family and circuit court civil mediator as well as a proven and experienced attorney since 1974, Ronald A. Luzim brings an integrative and holistic approach to help his clients take full advantage of the family laws to protect their rights and interests. Please contact his Coral Springs office at 954-755-1500 for your family law needs.