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Can your child’s special health condition – impact your child custody arrangments?

In disputes over custody, sometimes the main issue in dispute can be a particular child’s health concern.  Often, the child’s primary carer has been responsible for seeing specialists, dealing with the treatment for the health condition and administering medication.  Whilst one parent might have intimate knowledge of a particular condition, the other parent might not be so knowledgeable.

In custody disputes where the child’s health condition is a primary issue, the worst thing a non-resident parent can do is deny or diminish the severity or symptoms of the condition.  The Courts tend to take a maternal and caring role and whilst the adage ‘harden up’ might have bode well in the past, dismissing a medical condition as less serious than it is will likely create the impression you do not have the capacity to deal with the various requirements of the child’s condition.

In circumstances where a parent wants more time with a child, being ignorant of, or not knowledgeable of what the requirements are for the child’s care might suggest the child is best left in the care of the other parent. The Court will prefer to have the child spend the majority of the time with the parent who can demonstrate the ability to manage a child’s treatment or special needs.

Parents ought to be aware of the significant increase in the diagnosis of conditions where the child is on the autism spectrum or suffering from Attention Deficit or Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  It would be of benefit to a parent whose child is diagnosed with any long-term health condition to:

  1. Attend, or offer to attend all medical appointments.
  2. Educate themselves by doing their own research into the condition.
  3. Compensate for the child’s condition by putting into place structures and systems in your home to assist them.
  4. Foster a good co-parenting relationship with the other parent.

The last thing a parent seeking more time with their child ought to do is to downplay or diminish the existence of a medical condition and to be ignorant of or not interested in the treatment of the condition.  To do so is to simply award a free kick to the other side and doesn’t make you look good.

Effectively, in circumstances where there is a special health condition or need, each parent needs to be able to demonstrate not only a capacity to care for the child but the capacity to deal with the discreet special needs associated with the child’s medical condition.  Failing to demonstrate this capacity might be grounds for the time a parent spends with a child to be limited.

If your parenting dispute relates to a child’s health condition or if your child has special needs, Cudmore Legal has experienced in dealing with these types of matters.  Please book a free appointment to find out how we can help you.