Sports Related Injury and Child Custody

It’s in the news all the time, the insurgence of sports-related injury from contact sports, especially concussions. There’s no good injury, and brain trauma or concussion carries especially high risk. The severity of an injury can range significantly, coupled with the risk of a reoccurrence, which makes decisions about continued play very difficult for parents.

The difficult thing about head injuries is that the healing process can be hard to judge even in a controlled environment where all concerned parties live under the same roof. When a child moves between homes, it’s a challenge. If this is the case, try to establish an individual who can serve as a stable monitor for the injury. Ideally, parents could work together to serve this need, but if this creates too much tension, a shared pediatrician, team trainer or if agreeable, a family member skilled at the formal protocols for monitoring concussions can step in.

Once the injury heals and the child is cleared for participation in contact sports, parents are faced with a decision – to return to play or not to play? This can be difficult if one parent is committed to the sport and the other is more conservative. In a shared custody situation, the parents will need to come to a decision together. If making this decision together is not possible independently, turning to the custody lawyer to help guide the decision making process would make sense. Prior to this meeting, it’s a good idea to consult with professionals – pediatricians, coaches and others to collect data that will help guide the decision from a factual perspective and minimize the emotional factors.

When one parent has legal custody, then the decision falls to that parent to make the final call. There are many resources available online to learn more about the topic of concussions with up to date thinking and guidance on how to manage head injuries. The CDC has a great website with multiple resources that can be accessed via this link: http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/parents/index.html.

The child’s best interests are always fundamental in making decisions, but at times circumstances make it difficult to see the forest through the trees. If a child is pleading to play, and one parent is pushing, it’s difficult to be the decision maker who puts an end to a dream. As parents, the health and safety of the child is paramount and making difficult decisions can sometimes be the biggest challenge of parenthood.

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