What If Parents Disagree About Child’s Mental Health Treatment?

A parent who disagrees with the other parent’s consenting to mental health treatment for their child often faces costly, time consuming, and inadequate remedies. 

The parent who doesn’t consent may ask the court to modify the parenting plan, but must allege and prove a substantial change in circumstances, that the other parents’ decision is detrimental to the child, and that 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.

See https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/615/Analyses/h0615.CJS.PDF

See also Puhl v. Puhl, 260 So. 3d 323 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018) (mom’s taking the child to therapy without first consulting dad did not support modifying the parenting plan, because the facts supported no finding that a “substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances” occurred).

The statute 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 because shared parenting has been determined to be a detriment to the child.

Detriment justifying an award of sole decision-making authority includes an extensive inability to cooperate on issues involving the welfare of the children.

See Cranney v. Cranney, 206 So. 3d 162, 164-65 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) (reversing award of ultimate decision making authority to mom);

Fazzaro v. Fazzaro, 110 So. 3d 49, 51-52 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) (there was 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, 24 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009) (the history of the parents’ inability to cooperate was not yet extensive enough to justify giving dad sole decision making authority)

⇐  Prior section:  Florida Mental Health Treatment Providers & Informed Consent Requirements

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