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Parents have legal rights to make decisions regarding their child’s well-being. Full information is a starting point, at which point the parent can make a choice for the betterment of their family. The following are some of the parents legal rights, in regards to mental health, that you have. This site has many articles and posts that can give you more detailed information and you are always welcome to call if you need specific facts related to your situation.
-The right to know the facts in regards to mental health diagnoses
-The right to know the FDA warnings on any and all mental health meds
-The right to a thorough, physical exam for your child that will test for the medical causes of their unwanted mental health or behavioral health symptoms
-The right to choose alternative treatment for your child
-The right to decline any mental health questionnaires that are geared towards your child
-The right to be your child’s representative if they are taken into a mental health facility under the Baker Act
-The right to full information on all of these issues and more
Parents Legal Rights
The 1991 Patient Self-Determination Act (passed by congress) and the14th Amendment assure a parent and/or parents the right to seek and ask for healthcare counsel, advice, information, recommendations, assessments, evaluations, tests, and/or treatments, regimens or modalities from a doctor, therapist, nurse, or other healthcare provider of my choice for any health reason or purpose. Parents legal rights used to be all encompassed by these two legal documents.
Yet, times have changed and so have parents rights. Typically, parents have the right to select or reject any individual as a healthcare advisor and the right to choose what type of medical treatment they provide for their child.
In most situations, a parent or parents can rely on the Patient Self-Determination Act and the 14th Amendment and they can be assured the right to raise and care for their child in the manner in which they see fit.
In other situations, such as divorce and especially if the two parents disagree on decisions regarding the care of the child, other documents come into play in the form of Florida laws and those who enforce the law, within the family court arena.
Florida Statute 61.30(3) and (4). (c): ”The court shall determine all matters relating to parenting and time-sharing of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act…
(3) For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parent’s relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration. A determination of parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule may not be modified without a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination that the modification is in the best interests of the child. Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family…(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.”
Herein lies the problem, in terms of addressing parents rights. The parent who knows that neither themselves or their child has a mental health problem, can be challenged, within the family court arena and from many real-life families, what has been seen, is that the parent who feels they or their child has no mental health issues and/or does not opt to choose mental health drugs, is then surpassed by the family court and by the psychologists appointed to the family, by the court. “The best interests of the child” are built into the law and are interpreted to mean that the courts can decide what those best interests are. Therefore parents who are aware of the lack of medical testing that can evidence mental health diagnoses, and parents who are aware of the FDA warnings on mental health drugs (of hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and more), lose their parental rights to decide what is best for themselves and for their child.
Per Florida Statute, 394.455 (18) “Mental illness” means an impairment of the mental or emotional processes that exercise conscious control of one’s actions or of the ability to perceive or understand reality, which impairment substantially interferes with the person’s ability to meet the ordinary demands of living. For the purposes of this part, the term does not include a developmental disability as defined in chapter 393, intoxication, or conditions manifested only by antisocial behavior or substance abuse impairment.
* Substantially–to a great or significant extent.
It would be in alignment with our constitution and with the Patients Self-Determination Act to remove subjective opinion or capricious adjudications of what qualifies as a substantial change in one’s mental health that shows he/she cannot meet the ordinary demands of living.
It must be proved by objective means that the person is unable to mentally care for his child. It must be able to be evidenced by actions and results, of the person’s actions.
Differentiate physical and mental in terms of conditions of comparable magnitude physically—at which point does mental health symptoms become incapacitating?
New language needs to be added in this section of the law to clarify the statute and to include, the parent’s:
Able to function
Pays his bills
New language of what needs to be exempt from being considered as mental health problems:
Disagreeing with receiving or having one’s child receive mental health treatment.
The Family Court arena has changed drastically in the last few years. Where once, a couple with children, could go into a divorce, child-custody, child-support, legal arena, and leave unscathed by mental health intervention, this time has passed.
Currently, the Family Court system has in place, Mediation and Child Custody Supervisors, Parent Coordinators and Guardian ad Litems (legal guardians), who are most often Psychologists. It is a rubber-stamp arena in which the Family Judges are trying to move the dockets quickly and with as little hassle as possible. This adds up to psychological evaluations being done on parents and children and ends up with psychiatric diagnoses and court-supported psychiatric drugging.
In fact, the parent that disagrees with the psychological evaluation and/or drugging, is one-for-one, looked at by the Psychologists and the Judges as having a mental health problem for not wanting the “mental health help” for his/her family. What ensues is tragic! The parent, who disagrees with the psychological and psychiatric intervention within the Family Court arena, is losing rights to visit and/or have partial custody of their child/children and losing the right to choose “alternative treatment” for their child or themselves.
The most effective way to avoid these tragedies is to handle all agreements for dissolution of a marriage, child-support and child-custody, outside the court system and to only enter the court arena with full and complete agreement between both parents.