How to Win Custody: Medical Decision Making Highlights

I meet with clients who want to “win” custody. If you have read any of my other blogs on custody, you will already know that custody isn’t as clear-cut as it used to be. I mediated a couple of cases recently and custody was at issue in both cases. But in one case, the time spent with the child was split equally and in the other one party had slightly more time. Let’s break down the kinds of custody.

With Joint Physical custody, it doesn’t have to be half the time exactly. Or if it is half the time, it doesn’t have to be seven days. It can be a two, two, three rotation of physical custody. Or it can be one or two days every week and then alternating weekends of custody. But yet, it’s called something different than Sole Physical custody. Sole physical custody means that the majority of the time is spent with one parent.

But it becomes really tricky when you look at Joint Legal custody. First off, most everyone gets the designation of Joint legal custody. Equal rights to the various records pertaining to the children and the right to know what’s going on with school and medical visits. Sole legal custody is rarely awarded. But there are also designations of legal custody that are important. Depending on what your goal is, some of the categories of legal custody may be important to you.

Medical Decision-making Power in Child Custody

If someone is awarded medical decision making, then that person should discuss the medical care with the other parent. However, if there is a disagreement, then the medical care of the children will ultimately be decided by the parent with decision making. I had a case where this was hotly contested recently and it was a nightmare. Most of the time, the medical professional’s opinion will be the governing factor. What if you have two different medical opinions? The person who has the medical decision-making power will decide.

Summer Child Visitation ScheduleWhat if we have an elective procedure? Yes, you guessed it. The party who has medical decision-making decides.

These are the all the times this could come up:

  1. Orthodontics
  2. Plastic surgery
  3. Counseling
  4. Medication for psychiatric, including ADHD or ADD
  5. Glasses or contacts
  6. Treatment for dermatological issues
  7. Alternative or traditional therapies
  8. Allergy testing or not

Now that I have started you thinking, you can see that it may come up more often than you ever imagined. If you are going to insist on medical decision-making, then be clear as to why you want it for settlement negotiations and mediation or the Court. Having health insurance isn’t the governing factor either. I was assisting a client once and she was adamant that her husband wasn’t finely attuned to the needs of the small children. She cited several times when he said that the children weren’t sick and ultimately they were. When it came down to it, we were able to get an agreement on her being awarded decision making of health decisions.

If you are a parent with medical training, it makes sense for you to have medical decision-making. I’ve seen a parent who preferred alternative therapies to conventional medicine be denied the right to make the decision. My advice is to hire a qualified attorney to help you prepare for your case. These may seem like small details but can be crucial to the care of your children. Contact Leigh Daniel, Attorney At Law for help.

In the following few articles, I am going to write about the other categories. Stay tuned!


A respected Huntsville family law attorney with more than 20 years’ experience, Leigh Daniel is known for her positive attitude and her skills in the courtroom. She prides herself in the care and compassion that she and her team put into every case. Her goal is to instill a sense of confidence in her clients so they know success is on the horizon. As an author, inspirational speaker, coach, and founder of Project Positive Change, Leigh stays focused on the positive impact she can make on every client’s case.