He recently had surgery and since then he has been desperate for me, crying every time I leave and all week while he’s at his mother’s house. I want to find out why he is behaving so different and erratic, but my ex-wife is the parent responsible for education and medicine decisions.
If I take him to a doctor without her consent, I likely will be in trouble for disobeying the court order, though.
What are my options to get him help?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Nebraska divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
Your concerns are valid, both for protecting your son and for concerns of being held in contempt for violating the court order. However, if you believe your son is in immediate danger or being abused, you have both an obligation and a right to report the same.
This does not necessarily mean taking a child to a psychologist or psychiatrist, but rather reporting your concerns to a child protective agency. These agencies can include hotlines through the state or through child victim programs with your local law enforcement.
If your spouse refuses to allow your son to attend an appointment with a child psychologist, after you have requested the same, and if your state does not allow you to take him to receive anything other than emergency medical treatment, you would be best to consult an attorney to possibly modify your divorce decree and/or parenting plan based on a change of circumstances and the best interests of your son.
Where I practice, this material change in circumstances, i.e. one parent’s refusal to seek what you consider necessary medical care, may warrant a temporary, if not permanent, change in the current court order. Such a modification would allow you to seek the care necessary for your son without risking being held in contempt of the current court order.
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Many states do not allow one parent to conceal medical records. In addition, those states allow both parents to have access to the same, including attendance at appointments, or even making one’s own appointment to discuss issues with a doctor without the child present.
Therefore, although your ex-spouse may be the custodial parent for medical care, it does not necessarily mean you cannot ask the medical provider questions, or obtain the medical records for your review.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.