How the Courts are Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship: Recent Opinions on the Meaning of an Invasive Procedure

At the conclusion of a divorce or suit affecting the parent-child relationship, when parents are appointed joint managing conservators, they are given equal rights and duties with respect to the child or children. This means equal rights to make decisions for your children as well, whether they be education decisions or medical decisions for operations, etc.

With respect to medical decisions, normally within your orders you’ll see that when a child requires an “invasive procedure,” both parents’ consent is required for the child to undergo such procedure. This begs the question of what would constitute an “invasive procedure”, which is important to define because, as with everything in life, some parents’ definitions may be different from others’.

You and your ex-spouse are currently arguing over whether you both have to consent to your child having a medical procedure. Your stance is absolutely no. You don’t believe this to be an invasive procedure. So, you contact your attorney at Guest & Gray, P.C. in Kaufman County.

In doing so, your attorney will advise you that we still don’t have a bright line rule, but we do have an appellate opinion which can shed some light on the situation and offer guidance. The Fort Worth Court of Appeals in Brennan v. Cedeno used the Texas Health and Safety Code definition for invasive procedure for this particular case. It did so because this was the definition suggested by the Appellant, and the Appellee did not object.

In that particular case, the issue was whether the application of braces in a child’s mouth was an invasive procedure, and based upon the Texas Health and Safety Code definition, this was not an invasive procedure. The Court made it clear that it was only using this definition for this particular case, and not for future cases.

Therefore, it would be wise to suggest this definition if you’re facing a dispute with your ex-spouse over whether you violated the orders by going forth with a procedure without their consent that they considered to be invasive. Or, in drafting the final orders for your case, request that each parent have their own respective equal rights and duties and not have the requirement for both parents’ consent for any decision with respect to the children. Sometimes, as seen in the Brennan case, that will only complicate things further.