Sometimes in the course of a divorce, fathers who do not have custody of their children may be unfairly deprived of a say in their children's medical care. This improper violation of fathers' rights was illustrated by the case of one father, now active as the head of an organization working to remedy the program.
While the father was going through the beginning stages of a divorce, his son was ill. His estranged wife, who had the child in her care, made all the decisions about the child's medical treatment, and denied him access to the boy's medical records, preventing him from being fully informed about what was going on. She even went so far as to place on file a do-not-resuscitate order with medical providers. She did not seek her ex-husband's approval for this, and this could have, under the wrong circumstances, even resulted in his son's death.
The DNR continued to be in effect even though the child was not hospitalized. The father ultimately needed to go to court to assert his rights to be involved in this critical medical decision. Often, medical providers may simply go along with the wishes of a custodial parent, without even inquiring into the wishes of a non-custodial father, who does have some legal rights in the matter.
This kind of problem, unfortunately, appears frequently. Only around 18 percent of single-parent households are headed up by fathers. Accordingly, non-custodial fathers, the vast majority of whom want to be involved in their children's lives, are often not consulted on critical issues concerning their medical care.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorced Dads' Rights: Father Fights For Say In Son's DNR Order, Access to Medical Records," Nov. 6, 2012
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