Why co-parents should share medical information about children

Although I did my best to pass on information to my ex-husband prior to our split in 2020, I’m sure there are bits and pieces that never reached him for one reason or another, which is quite common. However, since our divorce, it is more important than ever for me to share doctor updates and other changes to medical records with my ex-spouse.

Unfortunately, many separated co-parents don’t know the rules and regulations about what should and shouldn’t be shared when it comes to your child’s medical records and treatment plans. Luckily for you, the rules are pretty straightforward, and technology can make it easier to share this valuable information.

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What separated couples are required to share

One-Third of American Children Don't Have Adequate Health Insurance
via Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko

According to Hannah Bell, founding attorney of the law firm Hembree Bell, PLLC, sharing important information about your child with their other parent is the “gold standard” in most co-parenting cases. Most often, your Permanent Parenting Plan and Divorce Judgment outlines the medical information parents are required to share with each other or outlines a “Bill of Rights of the Child” that explains all of the requirements for cooperative co-parenting.

While there are always some exceptions, most co-parents should, at a minimum, share the following with each other if both parents still have parental rights:

  • Results of annual physical examinations
  • Current medications the child is taking
  • Any changes to their medical needs, including additions or changes to medical devices or medications the child takes on a daily basis
  • Scheduled medical appointments
  • Any new vaccine a child receives
  • Injuries or unscheduled medical interventions (as soon as possible after the event)

In addition, Bell offers the following suggestion to all parents: Keep your co-parent informed of everything you would like to know if the roles were reversed. And, when in doubt, it is better to share too much than to leave the other parent in the dark.

Personally, I report everything to my co-parent as soon as possible so that they are aware and do not receive second-hand information from the children themselves. I feel like it’s better to share all the details of the results of our daughter’s last neurology appointment with a new cough that developed than to forget an important detail that my co-parent might have had need for a future event.

Even if you think it’s insignificant, your co-parent will appreciate you sharing any medical treatment or changes in your child’s health, as it shows that you consider them an equal partner in your child’s care.

And, most importantly, co-parents should always keep up to date with any insurance changes, especially if it impacts which doctors a child can see or the fees associated with specific appointments. This may mean ordering extra copies of your child’s insurance cards or keeping a separate health savings account for both co-parents to use for child-related medical expenses.

How co-parents can share medical information with each other

A mum with her two children trying to look at the phone
via Unsplash / Vitolda Klein

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to keep track of every document and note about your child’s medical history, especially if your child is living with a disability or chronic illness. Depending on your child’s specific diagnosis and the size of their treatment team, it is very possible that your child’s medical records will change frequently.

While you can still print out handouts and other materials to share with your co-parents, it almost seems more complicated than it needs to be. However, there are also ways to electronically share medical records and other important information with your co-parents without worrying about HIPPA violations or data breaches.

For example, OurFamilyWizard® is a co-parenting app that lets parents create and share a combined calendar, upload important documents, and communicate with each other in one place. Specifically, the Information Bank provides parents with a safe and neutral place to store the entire family’s medical records and other information. Additionally, the Information Store organizes each piece of information into comprehensive categories so that parents can easily retrieve the data they need anytime and from anywhere in the world.

Between our eldest daughter’s newly added therapy sessions and our youngest daughter’s ongoing treatment for her cerebral palsy, my ex-husband and I exchange information quite frequently. Although we can always text or email each other, sometimes it is difficult to browse through the message history to retrieve a specific form or data on one of the children. Fortunately, co-parenting apps like OurFamilyWizard make it much easier, not to mention secure, to share medical records back and forth without worrying about data loss along the way.

Co-parenting a child is no picnic, even if you get on well with your co-parenting like me. However, open communication between both parents and a game plan for keeping track of medical records can really help you navigate more easily. Don’t forget to share anything you’d like your co-parent to share with you, and you’ll be fine.

Sources: Hembree Bell Law Firm, OurFamilyWizard, The Mighty

Mom using Co Parenting app on phone
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