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

When parents disagree about mental health treatment. Child working on tablet.

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:

  1. a substantial change in circumstances,
  2. the other parents’ decision is detrimental to the child, and
  3. 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

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.



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