Is It Essential to Get Parental Consent for Minors to Receive Therapy in Florida?

One area of law that prospective adoptive parents ask adoption lawyers about relates to parental consent. Specifically, they often ask us whether it’s essential to get parental consent for minors to receive therapy. Here, we take a closer look at this issue as it relates to both intact and separated families. 

Can Therapists in Florida Treat A Minor Without Both Parents’ Permission?

In intact families, the rule is generally that either parent can consent to the child’s treatment. However, often, a counselor or therapist may prefer to obtain the other parent’s consent, too. Alternatively, he or she may wish to let the child’s other parent know about the treatment. Yet, sometimes, it’s not always possible to justify this action.

When parents have joint legal custody, they will typically have rights and responsibilities to make health-related decisions. This means that, in general, either parent can consent to or authorize treatment for his or her child. This applies unless a court order has specified otherwise. Sometimes, court orders will specify circumstances in which both parents must consent. 

If parents have joint authority for making health-related decisions for their child, but one objects, treatment should cease. What happens if both parents have previously given permission for treatment, but one chooses to revoke his or her permission? In such cases, some therapists will say the decision to terminate treatment must come from both parents.

Can A Minor Ever Decide to Have Treatment Against His or Her Parents’ Wishes?

What if a child is 13 years or older and truly desires therapy for his or her emotional crisis? That child can give his or her own consent. This will only apply for a maximum of two visits in a single week. After this period has elapsed, the child will require parental consent for any further treatment. 

The treatment covered by these rules include:

  • Outpatient mental health evaluative and diagnostic services provided by licensed mental health professionals. These services can determine how severe the problem is. They will also determine whether the minor is likely to cause harm to himself or herself or others without treatment. 
  • Outpatient therapy, counseling, or crisis intervention services. These include group therapy, psychotherapy, counseling, and other verbal therapy types supplied by licensed mental health professionals.

The Problems of Obtaining Both Parents’ Consent

Obtaining both parents’ consent in the case of separated or divorced parents can present major challenges. Often, it involves the navigation of history-laden and emotionally charged territory. There’s the risk of the parents using the child as leverage by his or her parents in their dispute. Most often, this arises when children require treatment for depression-related psychiatric issues. Family discord is often the cause of these issues. At present, though, adoption lawyers in Miami, FL, face a complex situation. Technically, either parent can give parental consent for minors to receive therapy when there’s joint custody. Yet, in practice, this can cause a host of issues should the parents have opposing views about their child’s treatment. 

This situation only invites disputes and confusion while presenting practical challenges. It’s no wonder then that collaborative practitioners, courts, and parents alike are increasingly exploring workable solutions to prevent problems later.

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