One parent disagrees with the other parent’s consenting to mental health treatment for their child. They share parental responsibility, so each parent retains consent to. mental health treatment. To move forward, the parents may often face costly, time consuming, and inadequate remedies.
The parent who doesn’t consent may ask the court to modify the parenting plan. But, to succeed, the parent must allege and prove:
- a substantial change in circumstances,
- the other parents’ decision is detrimental to the child, and
- continued shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
The petitioning parent would request ultimate authority or sole responsibility for mental health decisions for the child.
When Parents Disagree About Mental Health Treatment: Puhl v Puhl – Failed Modification
In Puhl v. Puhl, 260 So. 3d 323 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), dad unsuccessfully sought modification. Mom took the child to therapy without first consulting him. The court found insufficient grounds for modifying the parenting plan. The facts supported no finding that a “substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances” occurred.
Ultimate or Sole Parental Responsibility
Section 61.13, Florida Statutes does not authorize either parent to consent to mental health treatment where the court has awarded one parent ultimate authority regarding health care decisions or where the court has awarded sole parental responsibility to one parent. For that to happen, the court must find shared parenting detrimental to the child.
Detriment Justifying Sole Decision-Making Authority When Parents Disagree About Mental Health Treatment
A parent who disagrees with the other parent’s consent to mental health treatment for a child may seek sole decision-making authority over the child’s health care.
But showing detriment to justify sole decision-making authority isn’t easy. Detriment includes an extensive inability to cooperate on issues involving the welfare of the children.
- Musgrave v. Musgrave, 290 So. 3d 536 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019) – reversing award to mom of sole parental responsibility where there was no logical or reasonable justification to support concluding shared responsibility was detrimental to the kids;
- Walker v. Walker, 274 So. 3d 1156 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019) – upholding trial judge’s order denying each parent’s request for sole decision-making authority;
- Cranney v. Cranney, 206 So. 3d 162 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) – reversing award of ultimate decision making authority to mom;
- Fazzaro v. Fazzaro, 110 So. 3d 49 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) – no evidence of “a continuing pattern of hostility that reasonably would lead one to conclude that the parties will be unable to effectively work together for their child’s best interests”;
- Gerencser v. Mills, 4 So. 3d 22 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009) – the history of the parents’ inability to cooperate was not yet so extensive to give dad sole decision making authority.