COVID-19 vaccinations have turned a medical and public health issue into one that’s splitting the country. Anti-vaccination feelings and publicity are at an unprecedented level. Along with our divided communities, some parents don’t agree either. Fighting with your ex over issues involving your kids is never fun – and now we have another “hot button” issue, the COVID-19 vaccine, to add to the mix.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 59.1% of the country is fully vaccinated against the viral infection. That drops to 50.8% of Americans aged 12 to 17. Emergency FDA approval of vaccine use for kids ages 5-11 has recently been approved and the parents of young children are currently making decisions as to whether or not their children should be vaccinated.
Should a Judge Decide?
What happens if your ex doesn’t want your child vaccinated but you do? When divorced parents disagree, they should read the divorce agreement, which may or may not mention vaccines. If legal custody is shared, both can make healthcare decisions. If one parent has sole legal custody, they make those choices, including those regarding vaccinations.
Can you have a conversation? If it would help, consult your pediatrician for guidance. If you cannot reach an agreement, an attorney from our staff can help. If we can’t negotiate a resolution, we can go to court to protect your child’s best interests. This is a complex, time-consuming, expensive way to end a dispute, but it’s an option if everything else fails.
How Would a Court Rule?
A judge would decide based on what’s in the best interest of the child. There’s a good chance they may state that includes vaccination.
- A judge in Canada ruled a 13-year-old girl with diabetes be vaccinated against COVID-19 contrary to her mother’s wishes because it was in the child’s best interest
- In a New Jersey appeals court decision in favor of vaccination (but not involving COVID-19), the decision states, “The experts agreed that overall vaccines are safe and effective…” and gave the pro-vaccine parent the ability to decide what to do
A judge will consider the facts of the case, including:
- Why the parents have their positions
- Specific health risks to the child
- School or activity requirements and how being unvaccinated would affect the child
- Medical expert opinion
The child’s pediatrician’s opinion may carry a lot of weight, especially if the child has conditions that may increase the chances of bad side effects from the vaccine or the child risks serious complications if they are unvaccinated and become infected.
Get the Legal Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust
Do you have questions about child custody or need legal representation? Call our office at (215) 608-1867 or schedule a consultation online today. We can speak via teleconference, over the phone, or meet in our Langhorne or Doylestown office to discuss your case.