Parents in New Jersey and across the United States must decide whether to have their child vaccinated against Covid-19. Since the vaccine is now available to children 12 and older, and may soon be available for children under 12, some parents disagree on what to do. The situation becomes more complicated for parents who are divorced, separated or unmarried.
Even parents who agreed on medical decisions and vaccinations in the past are finding themselves in conflict over this issue. While married, only one parent needs to give consent for any vaccine. But when the parents have a pending divorce or are already divorced, the legal conflict issues come into play.
To vaccinate for Covid-19 or not
Inconsistent school and public mask mandates and misinformation often fuel the fight over whether to vaccinate a child for Covid-19 or not.
All fifty states and Washington, DC require some vaccines for children to attend public schools. Vaccines for chickenpox, whooping cough and polio are some of the more common shots given. But parents can choose not to allow their children to be given these vaccines due to religious or medical reasons.
It’s confusing for everyone when mandates vary from state to state and differ from the federal government’s recommendation. Emotions and numbers are driving decisions. Numbers include how many children are hospitalized with Covid-19 and how many have adverse side effects due to the vaccine.
Which parent has the final decision?
When parents cannot agree on a course of action, they allow the courts to decide. Courts and law offices in New Jersey and across the country are seeing a surge in Covid-19 related legal cases.
But how do the courts decide? First, they will look at the parenting order, such as a divorce decree, and find who has the legal custody for medical decisions. If one parent has the final decision-making ability concerning their child’s medical well-being, the court will likely follow the decree. But often, the parents have split agreements on the child’s medical care, and this is where the legal fight begins.
How to resolve the Covid-19 vaccine dispute
There is often no easy way to resolve this emotional issue, but here are some recommendations:
- Talk It Out
It is always recommended that parents first calmly and maturely discuss this issue. Try to leave each person’s feelings for the other person out of the argument and focus on the child’s well-being and what is in the best interest of the child. Perhaps one parent wants to wait a year to hear more medical results concerning the vaccine. Hopefully, everyone can come to an agreement.
- Ask Your Doctor
When it is clear that there will be no agreement, the next step is to consult with the child’s pediatrician. Both parents should meet with the physician to discuss the child’s medical history to resolve the dispute. While the CDC and American Pediatrics advise children 12 and above should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19, parents and health care providers should consider the individual child’s welfare and any special health risks the vaccine could pose to the child.
- Let The Courts Decide
If they can’t find a resolution, parents will take legal action. Each parent can present their argument to the courts, express all medical concerns, and let the judge determine what is in the minor’s best interest.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon. If parents cannot come to an agreement regarding their child and the vaccine, then contacting an experienced family law attorney is a wise decision to help guide them in protecting their rights and the rights of their child.
In some cases, for example, if a child does not have the vaccine, the child will not be able to attend school. The parent may feel this is not in the best interest of the child, and feel the vaccine is required to ensure the child gets a good education.
Contact A Family Law Attorney
Any parents who disagree about vaccinating their child against Covid-19 should consult an experienced family law attorney to discuss the child’s best interest. When parents share joint responsibility for medical decisions and cannot or will not come to an agreement, it is sometimes best to let the courts settle the argument.
When working with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney, bring your child’s medical records to help strengthen your case. Your attorney will explain your reasoning to the courts, and the Judge will make a final ruling.
Protect What Matters Most
New Jersey Family Law Attorneys
Our Toms River and Moorestown child custody attorneys understand that medical issues with child custody can be highly charged and emotional for everyone involved. Divorce is already a complex and emotionally fraught situation - adding children into the equation makes the process that much more complicated. That’s why we go above and beyond to provide compassionate guidance and assertive representation you can rely on. When you need a child custody lawyer, turn to Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Family Law Group.
Contact our attorneys at Stolfe Zeigler today at (732) 585-1651 to get started with an initial case evaluation.