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Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Orlando Divorce Attorney
  • Experienced DIVORCE ATTORNEY

Florida Child Custody: Who Gets to Make Medical Decisions


There are few things more stressful and frustrating than being locked in a contentious child custody dispute. Under Florida law, child custody is a complex issue that must be handled with extreme care. Custody is actually broken down two different parts:

  • Physical custody: Who has a right to be with the child, and when they have this right.
  • Legal custody: Who has the right to make certain key decisions on behalf of the child.

In the vast majority of cases, Florida courts seek to give parents joint legal custody. While sole legal custody is awarded when the circumstances require it, Florida state policy has a strong presumption that shared legal custody is better for children. However, with joint legal custody also comes some potential problems. For example, what happens when parents, who share legal custody, disagree on an important medical decision? Here, our Orlando child custody attorneys seek to provide helpful guidance on this question.

First Look to the Parenting Plan  

Under Florida law, parents with joint child custody are required to create a workable parenting plan. This plan must then be submitted to and approved by a state family law court. If you and your former partner have reached an impasse regarding a medical decision for your child, your parenting plan may provide some helpful guidance. Indeed, your parenting plan may even have designated one person as the ultimate medical decision maker. If so, this usually has the force of law. Though, there are some exceptions, such as when circumstances have materially changed.

Collaborative Solutions Work Best 

If you cannot find an answer to your dilemma by referencing your parenting plan, it is best to seek negotiation with your child’s other parent. When it comes to your child’s medical decisions, it is best to find a collaborative solution. You may even want to seek mediation to discuss this issue. Though, the best interests of you and the health of your child should never take a backseat. 

If an Impasse Arises, Seek Professional Advice    

In certain cases, you may need to take legal action to protect your parental rights and the health of your child. Ultimately, Florida handles child custody cases, including disputes over medical care, under the best interests of the child standard. If your child’s other parent is acting negligently, or is doing something to put your kid into a dangerous situation, you need to take action. These types of cases are always unique and require an individualized review from a qualified Orlando child custody lawyer.

Contact Our Central Florida Divorce Attorneys Today 

At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our dedicated Florida family law team has extensive experience handling sensitive child custody issues. If you need child custody advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to call us today at 407-521-7171. Case evaluations are always fully confidential. Our firm is based in Orlando and we serve parents all around Orange County, including in Ocoee, Alafaya, Lake Buena Vista, Winter Park and Apopka.


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