Question: My 3 year old is showing some autistic behavior. I want to get him tested, so we can better raise him. My child’s mother has final say when it comes to medical. She absolutely have no interest in getting our son tested for autism. She uses “he’s a child, that’s what children do.” As an excuse. I’ve asked her 3 times, and I even talked to a specialist who wants to help but stated that she would need the mother’s permission as well. Every time I ask, my child’s mother would give an excuse… I’ll think about it or I’ll talk to my family first. Nothing is done. I wholeheartedly believe he has a form of autism from my observation, and I just want what’s best for my child. This child custody order was written to favor the mother. The judge even said it when she reread the order when we were in court last. This order has given her power trip when it comes to my son… “the order says I have final says, so that’s that.” I mean… this is to better my son. This is to help him so he won’t suffer in the future. It’s to the point where I just want to get my son help, and if she holds me in contempt because of it… so be it.
Answer: While modifying the legal custody order may be appropriate, before accessing the court, you want to make sure that your efforts to get your son evaluated are documented. You want to make sure that your request is clear and includes the reasons you want him evaluated and the location of the evaluation. Such a request should be made in writing and be written professionally/ civilly. Because of your concerns, you may want to include his teacher or a special education professional (member of his IEP team) in the discussion and ask mom to meet with you and such an individual. Finally, i would consult an experienced family law attorney so that you are preparing yourself for possible litigation. The Court just wants both parents to be reasonable. Parents disagree even in intact marriages but if you can show the Court you are trying to do what is best for your son and that the mother is obstructing for reasons other than what is in the child’s best interests the Court may change the Order to ensure that your son gets all the help and support he needs.
Legal Custody is the authority and ability to make major decisions for your child. Those major decisions concern education, medical, religious, and extra-curricular activities. Some of these decisions will be more important than others depending on your individual circumstances. Medical decisions can be routine like which pediatrician to use or life threatening/saving such as whether or not to have a risky surgery. Testing your child for autism is very important since there are so many effective and amazing programs to help the person with autism and the family, and early intervention is critical. The Courts want parents to communicate and cooperate to reach shared decisions on these important decisions and that is what joint legal custody is. If you make all reasonable efforts and then try some more (and document all the way) and she still will not cooperate, then it’s time to contact our attorneys at Mulinazzi Law Office to see if and how you can ask the Court for help. 410-290-6270, www.mulinazzi.com