Separated and Divorced Parents
Breakup of marriage and parenting relationships is a common occurrence in our society. Children with developmental special needs are particularly vulnerable during and after this process. They are likely to need extra care and consideration during this time.
This policy specifically addresses issues that may arise during and after relationship breakdown.
Our expectations of you
Family law has two central principles that we assume when working with parents who are separated or divorced.
1) The first is joint parental responsibility. This means it is the responsibility of parents to work out how they exchange information (e.g. letters, appointment information). More generally it applies to how parents collaborate regarding the care of their child/children. We expect that parents will cooperate for the benefit of their child. If we send a letter, or provide an appointment time to one parent only, we assume they will pass that information on to the other parent.
2) The second is that each child has the right to a meaningful relationship with both parents. In our practice this means that if either parent calls us to organise an appointment regarding their child, we will proceed with that request. In these cases, we generally copy the subsequent consultation letter to the parent who attends.
We communicate with the 'nominated' parent
For each child, our practice management software identifies a 'nominated' parent. Communication regarding that child, by default, is addressed to that parent.
This applies to
- automatic communications such as reminder emails (sent to the email address of the primary parent); and
- reminder text messages (sent to the mobile phone number of the primary parent).
Sometimes this inadvertently leads to potentially problems. For example, if an appointment is made by a parent who is not the nominated parent on our information system, any reminder information is still sent to the nominated parent.
This default also applies to written communication. It is our practice to routinely copy letters of communication to parents, such as medical reports back to the referring General Practitioner. We send a single copy to the parent identified as nominated.
If your circumstances require alternative arrangements
We understand there are circumstances where communication may not work well between separated/divorced parents. In some circumstances the court makes orders that differ from these central principles (above). If this is the case with you, please let us know. We require a copy of the court orders before making alternative arrangements.
At DMC we do not have much capacity or flexibility to make complex individualised arrangements. If our communication practice is potentially a problem for you, however, please discuss this with our administration staff, and with the doctor you are seeing. We will do our best to accommodate to individual circumstances for the benefit of the child where this is reasonable and achievable.