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When Divorced Parents Can’t Agree on COVID Vaccine

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Sep 20, 2021

When Divorced Parents Can't Agree on COVID Vaccine

When Divorced Parents Disagree on The  COVID Vaccine

When parents get divorced, they often disagree on how to handle certain things for their children. For example, a recent survey showed that around one in four parents do not want their child to receive the Covid-19 shot. So, for divorced parents, a big problem occurs when parents disagree on Covid vaccinations.

Here we look at the legal aspects to consider when deciding how best to handle the situation.

Consult the Custody Agreement

The court typically outlines which parent has decision-making power over the child’s medical well-being during a divorce. Medical well-being generally falls under the jurisdiction of the parent with legal custody. Legal custody may be either sole or joint.

Medical Matters, Sole Legal Custody Can Be Challenged

What happens if one parent wants to vaccinate and the other does not? If a parent with sole legal custody decides to vaccinate, this will usually stand.

If, however, they choose not to vaccinate the child against Covid, where previously both parents had shared a pro-vaccine stance, the parent without legal custody has grounds to appeal to the court to request that the legal custody arrangements (or at least that part pertaining to medical matters) are reviewed.

Joint Legal Child Custody and Covid Vaccine Disagreement

In some instances, the court will have awarded joint legal custody to both parents during the divorce proceedings. When there are 50/50 custody and Covid vaccine disagreements, a parent who wishes to vaccinate their child needs their ex-spouse’s consent.

If the other parent refuses to consent and an agreement cannot be reached, mediation may be required. If this fails to resolve, then the court has grounds for the matter to be decided.

What to Take into Consideration?

If an agreement cannot be reached between both parents with joint custody regarding the vaccine, the views of respected professionals can weigh heavily should the matter go to court.

In the first instance, presenting the parent refusing to vaccinate with facts and quality information, such as the CDC’s information on Covid vaccines for children, is an excellent first step.

Suppose this fails to convince the parent who does not want their child vaccinated. In that case, it’s best to schedule a meeting with the child’s medical doctor to obtain their professional view.

To Get Vaccinated or Not?

In one case that went to NJ court in 2017 regarding parents and their disagreement to vaccinate their children, it was determined that it is in the children’s best interest to prevent rather than treat. This case, regarding vaccinating children with age-appropriate immunizations may set a precedent for cases of a similar nature. The court decided the children should be given vaccinations, despite parental disagreement. However, as we continue to learn more about this new pandemic, a mandate may not always be the case with the Covid vaccine, as each situation may be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Need Additional Help and Guidance?

If you are a divorced parent who is currently in dispute with their ex-partner over Covid vaccinations for your children, Dalena Bosch offers empathetic, skilled legal counsel.

Book an appointment today to discuss your circumstances in more detail and to be guided in the best way possible.

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