Should a father who has shared custody see the child son when there is a hospital emergency?

Should a father who has shared custody rights of his child still see the child son when there is a hospital emergency? If your child is in the hospital during your time of custody should you be with the child or should the mother?


  • there is something about the father visiting/supporting the child in the hospital that would pose a clear risk to the child’s health or recovery; or
  • the child and father have a terrible relationship such that the child truly doesn’t want the father to visit (or, to a lesser degree, the father despises the child to the point that visiting the child in the hospital would do the child more harm than good),

then there is no reason that both loving parents should not be there to comfort, soothe, reassure, support, and encourage the child in the hospital. Indeed, the child may be saddened if the father doesn’t visit in the mistaken belief that only a mother should be in the hospital with the child. It could very well be that the presence of the father may facilitate healing and that the father’s absence may impede the child’s recovery. Regardless, if the child feels shunned or abandoned by his father’s failure/refusal to visit the child that could have irreparable effects on the father-child relationship later.

However, I understand that there may be more to your question than may appear on the surface. Sometimes, when parents divorce, one of the parents may become very “territorial” about the child, claiming to be the “better,” the “more informed/capable” or the “more necessary” or “more caring” parent in a medical emergency. Such a parent will then assert his/her superior parental status as a reason for barring the other parent from having any contact with the child on the ostensible grounds that “it’s in the best interest of the child”. That’s nonsense.

Still, if a parent’s good and proper desire to support and care for a child in the hospital is what leads the other parent to stir up trouble that could have a deleterious effect on the child and/or the child’s condition, a parent may find himself/herself “surrendering” to the obstreperous, alienating parent for the sake of protecting the child from the conflict. That’s as appalling as it is heartbreaking, but it happens, and it’s no mystery why when it does.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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