When You Have a Vaccine Dispute With Your Kids’ Other Parent

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Thursday February 10th, 2022.

Doctors encourage parents of children aged 5 to 11 to get their children vaccinated against COVID. Both parents must sign off if you’re divorced and share custody. However, a poll shows that roughly a quarter of U.S. parents do not want their kids vaccinated. How should parents navigate the issue if one is for the vaccine and one is against it? 

Look at Your Papers

Your first step should be to review your custodial order and final divorce decree. The two of you may have already laid the groundwork for these types of decisions. 

In addition, if one parent was given sole legal custody, that parent has the ability to make the final decision on the vaccine question.

Seek Legal Advice

Should you and the other parent have joint legal custody, the decision will need to be made together. If a consensus feels impossible, seeking the assistance of a family law attorney may be the best solution. You can request mediation, or you can ask the court for help coming to a resolution. 

Going to Court

If you go before a judge, there are a few things that you will need to do to prepare for your case. 

  • Present evidence: You and the other parent will both have the chance to support your position on the vaccine with evidence. Your opinion is not considered evidence. You will need documentation from your child’s medical provider or testimony from medical experts. 
  • History of involvement: Before considering your stance on the vaccine, the court will take a look at your level of involvement in your child’s medical care. If one parent makes the majority of medical decisions for the child, the court is likely to weigh that parent’s wishes more heavily. 
  • Religion: Religious reasons for objecting to the vaccine will be considered by the court, but it is unlikely that this will be the sole factor in the court’s decision. 
  • Your child’s testimony: Older children, fourteen years old and above, will likely be asked for their own opinion regarding vaccination. The court may consider an older child’s wishes when making a decision. 

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