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Divorced dad contests DNR order for son

Many noncustodial parents are concerned that they will not have a say in critical decisions regarding their child's education or medical treatment. In New Jersey, courts deciding child custody cases attempt to give both parents a say in such decisions when it is in the best interest of the child to do so. But even when the court recognizes a parent's rights, those rights can sometimes be frustrated by an ex-spouse or by third parties. One father in New York recently expressed his frustration with a medical decision made by his ex-wife.

The father learned that his ex-wife had made medical decisions regarding their son, and had even filed a do-not-resuscitate order with respect to the child. He also had trouble getting access to his son's medical records. When he found out that the law entitled him to a voice in his son's medical care, he nonetheless continued to meet resistance from the physician caring for his son. He claims that when he pointed out to the doctor that he should have been consulted with respect to the DNR decision, the doctor simply ignored him.

When New Jersey courts decide child custody issues they attempt whenever possible to order joint custody. Under joint custody, the parents work together to make decisions about the child's medical care and education. Courts in New Jersey encourage parenting plans in which provide for shared parenting. But the primary determining factor under New Jersey law is always the best interests of the child. If joint custody is not in the child's best interest, the court is free to fashion an alternative custody arrangement that meets that standard.

Source: 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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