While one parent usually receives primary physical custody in a divorce or paternity action, it is not uncommon for parents to share joint legal custody, either by agreement or by court order. The law favors joint legal custody, which requires both parents to be involved in major decisions involving their child with respect to medical care and education. In a joint legal custody situation, both parents would have equal access to the child’s medical and educational records. As a result, both parents would be listed as a contact on school and medical forms.
If parents who share joint legal custody cannot agree on an important decision related to the child’s educational or medical needs, they do have some recourse. Any disputes should be resolved by the parents according to their parenting plan; in the absence of an agreement, the parents could turn to the court for resolution of a dispute.
All too often, however, parents either will not or cannot cooperate to jointly parent their child. This situation can result in the parent who has primary custody of the child failing to provide the child’s school and doctor with necessary contact information for his or her other parent. If an emergency occurs, the school may have no way to contact the child’s other parent. Likewise, the noncustodial parent may be unable to seek medical care for the child if he or she is not listed as a parent on the child’s medical records.
Parents who do not have primary custody of their children still have the right to be involved in their children’s lives. This includes being listed as contact on school and medical records. Both parents are equally entitled to receive school and medical information about their child. Georgia law requires that parents present parenting plans to the court. In fact, all parenting plans must specifically address the issue of the noncustodial parent’s right to access education, health, extracurricular activity, and religious information regarding the child.
There may be exceptions to this general rule, of course, such as if a noncustodial parent is prohibited from having regular contact with a child or is limited to supervised visitation due to concerns about abuse, neglect, substance abuse, or incarceration. In these cases, a parent may have limited or no access to a child’s medical or school records.
If a parent is having difficulty accessing this information, or the custodial parent is otherwise hindering the parent’s efforts to be involved in the child’s life, then that parent may look to the legal system for relief. As your Atlanta child custody lawyer, we can help you enforce these rights and remain an integral part of your child’s life.
It should be noted, that one of the most powerful, and objective pieces of evidence in a child custody modification cases, is failure of the custodial parent to list the non-custodial parent on school or medical contact or authorization forms. It may seem like no big deal, but in the hands of a skilled lawyer, a custodial parent’s failure to list the other parent on these forms can have devastating consequences in a child custody case.
The Shaw Law Firm LLC is dedicated to educating and advising both mothers and fathers about their rights as parents. This includes parents’ rights to medical and school records about their children. Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.
Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.