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Understanding Medical Neglect in Child Custody

If you are concerned about the physical and mental wellbeing of your child when they are with their other parent, and you feel they aren't receiving proper medical care, you may be able to have your custody arrangement updated due to medical neglect. Conversely, if your spouse is accusing you of medical neglect of your child, it is important to defend yourself from these serious allegations.

To help you better understand your options, our child custody lawyers in Raleigh are sharing how medical neglect can affect child custody and what you need to know.

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What Is Medical Neglect?

Medical neglect refers to a parent or guardian failing to provide adequate medical care for a dependent or minor child in their care. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Refusing or denying access to medical care in an emergency
  • Refusing to support medical expenses for necessary treatment without good cause
  • Ignoring the recommendations of a medical practitioner after seeking healthcare
  • Refusing or failing to administer medication as a healthcare provider has prescribed

For example, this would include if a parent refuses to seek medical treatment for a fever that doesn't respond to over-the-counter medication and sees the child's condition is worsening. Similarly, taking a child to the doctor and receiving a prescription for them, then failing to give it to them, leading to a lack of change or worsening of their condition could also fall under this umbrella.

Medical neglect often includes both acute illness and long-term chronic illness or conditions and can be determined even when referring to non-emergency situations. It's also important to note that failing to seek psychological treatment for a child with serious mental health concerns may also fall under this concern.

Can Medical Neglect Be a Cause for a Custody Change?

First, it's important to note that there are two forms of child custody:

  1. Legal custody refers to both parents having equal say in important matters of raising a child - medical treatment, education, and religious upbringing.
  2. Physical custody refers to whom the child lives with and may include split custody with more equal time between parents or primary physical custody with visitation to the other parent.

If the court finds proof of medical neglect, this is a form of child neglect or child abuse and may lead to losing legal custody and having physical custody significantly limited.

What to Do If You Are Accused of Medical Neglect of Your Child

If you are accused of neglecting your child's medical needs by the other parent, it's important to gather as much documentation as you can to fight these allegations. This may include showing:

  • Medical records
  • Proof of treatment
  • Statements from physicians and medical personnel
  • Financial hardship that may prevent seeking care

Most importantly, you'll want to work with a child custody lawyer who will fight on your behalf against wrongful allegations and help you maintain custody of your child.

What to Do If You Suspect Medical Neglect

As a parent, the idea that your child is not receiving adequate medical care and treatment is terrifying, but you also need to back up these allegations if you intend to use this to get custody or update an existing custody agreement. It is important to document your concerns and obtain support for these claims, whether it's from a teacher, healthcare professional, or proof of neglect. Again, working with a child custody attorney who can help you collect documentation, get witness statements, and advocate for you and your child is necessary to get a more favorable outcome in court.

Schedule a Consultation with a Child Custody Attorney in Raleigh Today

If you have concerns about the wellbeing of your child and feel that the current custody arrangement may be detrimental to your child's health, we can help.

Our family law firm in Raleigh will advocate on your behalf to help you meet your goals so you can provide the best circumstances for your child. To schedule a consultation, call us today at (919) 301-8843 or fill out the form below to get started.

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