Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Ask Ellie: Include child's medical needs in custody order

The word “custody” today implies two things: access and shared decision-making regarding health, education and religion

FEEDBACK regarding “Worried Friend” and her concern over her friend’s custody battle (July 7):

“Worried Friend” is concerned about the child’s father looking after her medical needs while she is with him. The mother needs to fully inform the lawyer about the child’s medical needs and medication regimen, and put that information into the custody agreement with the father.

“If he does not comply, he will be in violation of the court order, with the consequences being that the judge will be less likely to look favourably on him next time the custody issue is revisited.”

Lisi — Since I’m not a medical doctor, or a lawyer, I consulted with two Ontario-based family mediators for information, and I would agree with the writer of this Feedback. I’ve also learned that the word “custody” today implies two things: access and shared decision-making regarding health, education and religion, and they don’t have to be equal. One parent can have 50 per cent access but not 50 per cent decision-making, for example.

The best thing this woman can do for herself and her children is to equip them with the knowledge of how to take care of themselves, and to recognize the signs and symptoms when something is going wrong.

As well, it is imperative that she get all health-care providers on board, including her children’s school, to share any and all information regarding her daughter’s health, and to know what red flags to look for at all times. Everyone needs to be aware of the medical plan for this child so if Dad drops the ball, which is what she is worried about, the child won’t suffer.

These children (since I’m unsure which one has the health issues) are both old enough to have a voice so, if necessary, the mother’s lawyer could submit a Voice of the Child report.

It boils down to compliance and non-compliance. If her soon-to-be ex-husband is non-compliant and her child is suffering, she would have to get in touch with her lawyer and file a motion to change the arrangement. However, I’ve been told that proving non-compliance is hard to do and takes time. Again, I’m no expert in this field.

FEEDBACK regarding the woman wondering how she’s going to handle getting ready for back to school (Sept. 6):

Reader – “I can relate! I had three children under four and it was crazy at times.

“When my daughter was six, I said she could make her own lunch — just tell me what she wanted me to put on the grocery list. She didn’t always make what I would have, but it gave her some autonomy. A year later when my son was six, he said, “Well, she gets to make her own lunch and I want to make mine!”

“When my third child’s turn came, he followed suit. They all had good breakfasts and dinners, so if lunch looked sketchy, so what?

“It sure took pressure off me and gave them a sense of responsibility.

“They also started making one dinner a week and doing their own laundry. I figured if they were adept enough at playing video games, they could work a washing machine!

“They’re all in their 40s now and great cooks, and tell me they appreciate how I brought them up.”

Lisi — Thanks for these great tips! Age six seems young to me, but if they could handle it and wanted to make their own lunches, then why not?

Dear Lisi: My wife and I have three small children, all boys. She wants to go for one more; I’m done. My biggest fear is that she’ll get pregnant with twins; twins run in both our families and it’s only fluke that we haven’t had our own set. Yet.

There’s no way we can afford — financially and emotionally — five children. And the likelihood of the next (one or two) being boys is high.

She’s pressing hard. How do I handle this? I love my wife.

Tapped out

Wow! Three boys is a lot! But I’m not surprised your wife wants to “go again.” Many women, myself included, love being pregnant. And many women, again myself included, love newborn babies.

I suggest you show her the financials: present and predictable future. If it’s really unaffordable, she can hopefully see that. If finances aren’t what will make or break, then discuss with her your feelings. Tell her you just don’t have it in you and share with her your fears. I doubt she wants to be a single mom to four (or five) kids.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].