At last, the news has broken; there is a light at the end of the tunnel! The vaccine is here and trials are beginning for children.
Are you and your ex-spouse or estranged spouse on the same page about whether you will inoculate your children? If you anticipate pushback from your child’s other parent, then this is a good time to start a conversation about protecting your child from this virus once the vaccine is considered both safe and effective for children, if that is your desire. But if you cannot agree, what are your options?
As you can imagine, as is true in most situations, it depends. First it depends upon who has legal custody: you, your co-parent, or, do you share joint legal custody. If you have sole legal custody, the inquiry ends there. This is one of those decisions that is covered by the legal custody doctrine and you alone can make the decision regarding whether your child will receive the vaccine.
But under a joint legal custody regime, two parents must agree, unless one or the other of them is given tie-breaking authority. In some cases, parents divide up the responsibility of who gets to make the final decision regarding decisions for healthcare, education or religion. In that case, the parent with healthcare decision making essentially has sole custody as to healthcare decisions. But if you do not have tiebreaking authority or are not the healthcare decision maker, then first going to mediation to flush out the reasons your co-parent is reluctant to agree with you may be helpful. Going through these reasons with a neutral third party will hopefully allow each of you to understand the other’s position and decide what is in the best interest of your children. If mediation is unsuccessful, unfortunately, the only alternative, thereafter, if there is no agreement, is to litigate the issue.
If you go before the court, each of you will be able to share with the court your reasons, pro or con, with regard to the reason you believe vaccination is in your child’s best interest, or not. If your child is high risk because of asthma or diabetes or some other health condition, be prepared to put on such evidence. Also, put on evidence regarding the division of parenting duties, including if you are the parent that normally takes care of all health care needs of the children. Objections by the other parent will have to be plausible and well-developed to support their position. In the end, a judge will listen to both of you and decide based on the evidence, their own life experience, and the reasons put forth by each party, considering the best interest of the children above all else.
If you find yourself with the need to discuss this or any other family law issue, feel free to contact me at 410.659.1398 or reach out on email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated 1/13/2021 @2:00PM
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