Divorce and Separation Guide: Medical care dos and don’ts

Parents should work together during and after their divorce to ensure the best medical care for their children.

Parents should work together during and after their divorce to ensure the best medical care for their children.

Divorce is a hard process for everyone involved. When a couple with children divorces, it’s hard on both parents and their children. However, there are things both parents can do, or avoid doing, to reduce the stress divorce often causes children. When it comes to dealing with medical care, the following tips can make it easier on all parties involved:

• Make sure to inform the other parent about all medical appointments and any related issues. When possible, these things should be discussed in advance and decisions should be made jointly.
• Keep the other parent fully informed if you are the one making the decisions- whether by virtue of past practice, court order, agreement, or the necessity of the situation.
• Understand that your children’s medical providers will not want to be called as witnesses in any court hearing.
• Be aware of and get involved in your children’s medical needs.
• Allow the other parent to get involved in your children’s medical needs.
• Provide the doctor’s office with a written document allowing the doctor and staff to communicate with either parent.
• Make certain that the doctor’s office has complete contact information for both parents.
• Be sure that there is a clear understanding of whose health insurance is to be billed and who will pay for co-pays and uncovered items.
• Occasionally offer the other parent to take the children to their appointments, without you having to be present. You can also alternate attendance at some appointments so that the children feel that each parent is concerned and attentive to their medical needs.
• Keep things in perspective. Not everything is a medical emergency.
• Honor any standing agreements about reimbursing the other parent for upfront expenditures.
• If verbal communication is not optimal, obtain a copy of the office note before you leave and fax or mail it to the other parent and be sure to include any other relevant comments or instructions the doctor may have provided you while you were there.

• Never bad-mouth or belittle the other parent to the doctor or the doctor’s staff.
• Do not talk about the parent, your separation, divorce, or other non-medical issues with the doctor.
• Don’t tell the doctor to send the bill to the other parent.
• Don’t tell the doctor not to talk to the other parent.
• Don’t hide or withhold medical information from the other parent.
• Don’t make appointments without at least informing the other parent, in advance if possible.
• Don’t schedule appointments that fall on the other parent’s time without prior discussion.
• Don’t schedule medical appointments on dates and times when you know the other parent cannot attend.
• Don’t assume that the other parent is not interested in medical issues.
• Don’t use the doctor’s office for any purpose other than to provide quality health care for your children.
• Don’t discuss anything other than the medical visit if both of you are attending the medical appointment. This isn’t the time for general discussions or arguments.

The list above can be found in the Taylor Law & Mediation’s Divorce and Separation Survival Guide for Parents. To request a PDF copy of the entire guide, please email mediation@taylorlm.com.