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Arizona divorce: Who gets access to kids' health, school records?

Parents filing for divorce in Arizona typically have to confront a wide range of issues when it comes to child custody. Aside from deciding how custodial responsibilities will be divided, issues such as visitation and child support must be addressed. One related topic that is sometimes overlooked in a divorce is the legal right of a parent to access medical and health records concerning their child.

One father discovered that obtaining access to his son's medical records was no walk in the park. Early on in his divorce, the father learned that the mother had made medical decisions concerning the child without his input or consent. Specifically, she had apparently filed a do not resuscitate order with the boy's doctor without disclosing her action to the father.

When the father sought access to the records, he was rebuffed. He pressed his argument that he had not authorized the DNR order and demanded that it be withdrawn. In a country where more than four fifths of single parent households are headed by mothers, the issued is of concern to fathers across Arizona and elsewhere. Indeed, access to a child's records is an issue that any noncustodial parent may have to confront.

These types of issues are perhaps best suited to alternative dispute resolution options such as divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce. Those choices give parents an opportunity to work together to resolve all relevant child custody issues. Though there may be a reason to withhold medical and school records in circumstances of documented domestic abuse, it is generally felt to be in a child's best interests to encourage full participation of both parents in the child's life. Those parties who are not able to cooperate on reaching a decision may require the intervention of the divorce court, though each may gain by ensuring that access to medical and education records are directly addressed in any final order.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorced Dads' Rights: Father Fights For Say In Son's DNR Order, Access to Medical Records (VIDEO)," Nov. 12, 2012

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