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Can my child see a Pennsylvania doctor with only one parent’s consent?

There are many learning curve moments that parents must experience when they decide to go their separate ways. One such moment is learning how to handle visits to the doctor. 

It’s not uncommon for pediatricians and mental health counselors to bombard parents with questions about their custody arrangements when they attempt to schedule an appointment. They do so because they’re conscious of how parenting plans in a case impact which parent can consent to their child’s treatment, who pays for that treatment and who can request any medical records. 

It shouldn’t alarm you if a medical provider such as a therapist or pediatrician asks to see the court order in your case before agreeing to see your child. Curiosity isn’t what motivates them to do so but their interest to comply with the law. 

What if a medical provider sees a child without both parents’ consent?

Unless a parent has sole legal custody of a child, Pennsylvania law requires both parents to provide consent for their kids’ treatment when they’re under 14-years-old. 

While most doctors toe the line and review court orders before seeing a patient with separated or divorced parents, some don’t. Medical providers might put their professional licenses at risk and expose themselves to legal liability if they were to treat a minor without both parents’ consent. 

Plus, moms and dads who share joint legal custody of their children may put their custodial rights on the line if they take their kids for medical treatment without their co-parent’s consent. Different rules may apply to emergencies. 

How do you address medical concerns in your parenting plan?

The best step that you and your ex can take to ensure that consent for your child’s medical care doesn’t become an issue for the two of you is to negotiate a parenting plan that adequately captures what you believe is their best interests. Reaching an agreement with your ex may not be easy, but a third party such as an attorney may help move the process along.