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Practice dilemma: Shared care

Two divorced parents sharing the care of their child are requesting that your practice records their residence as the home address for the child. What should you do? Our legal expert advises.

This is a common situation that is a sad feature of an acrimonious divorce when separated or divorced parents give conflicting instructions to a GP or practice about the care of their child. It is important in such situations to ensure that the practice does not appear to be partisan and that everyone's rights are fully respected.

In a situation such as this, it would be sensible to write to both parents indicating that you are being placed in an impossible position. You could note that whilst you are keen to ensure everyone's rights are respected, it would assist the practice in delivering the best possible care to their child, if the mother and father, perhaps with the help of their solicitors, could jointly give the practice clear instructions about how they wish to proceed.

If the parents are unable to reach agreement then the adjudication of the dispute would be for a court and not the practice to decide.

Dr Rob Hendry is head of medical services (Edinburgh) at the Medical Protection Society

Practice dilemma: Shared care