You want your kid to get the vaccine when it's available. Your ex doesn't. When should you call a lawyer?

You want your kid to get the vaccine when it's available. Your ex doesn't. When should you call a lawyer?

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Scott Dylan Westerlund
 | 
Right now, the CDC has approved the COVID vaccine for children aged 12-15. As of mid-May, at least 600,000 children have already received their first dose. Are you currently considering getting your teenagers vaccinated for COVID-19?

Families don’t have to agree on the politics surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, but what happens when two parents are in disagreement over whether they should vaccinate their children?

If you and your former spouse can’t come to an agreement, then you might have to involve the courts. Learn everything you need to know about medical custody and the COVID vaccine for children below.

 

What is Medical Custody?


First thing’s first. When you and your spouse initially got divorced, you agreed to a custody arrangement, too. You need to first determine whether or not you have full legal and medical custody of your child before you opt to vaccinate them. If you have sole custody, then you can make the decision to vaccinate your children on your own. You don’t legally need to listen to the advice of your former spouse.

In most situations, both parents are given joint legal custody of their children, though. That means each parent has equal authority to make medical decisions on behalf of their children. It’s not within your legal rights to go and vaccinate your child without the other parent’s consent. Instead, you’ll need to take the next steps to get full medical custody of your child.

 

What If You and Your Spouse Don’t Agree


So, how do you get full legal authority to give your child the COVID vaccine? You’ll need to petition your local courtroom to modify your legal custody agreement. You’ll want to ask the judge to give you sole medical custody over your child, which would give you the right to vaccinate your child without the other parent’s consent. The judge will hear both parent’s petitions, though, so don’t expect to simply be granted the authority to vaccinate your child without a fair hearing.

Judges will consider multiple factors when deciding to grant one parent sole medical custody of a child. In the future, vaccines may become a requirement for children to enter into school. In these situations, it’s likely the judge would consider the benefits that schools provide and rule in favor of the pro-vaccine parent. At the current time, however, it’s difficult to say how a judge would reach a decision.

There are a few previous court cases that suggest courtrooms might favor a pro-vaccine stance. In a 2015 case in Pennsylvania, for example, an appellate court said that anti-vaccine stances were “unreasonable and dangerous.” Considering the worldwide pandemic situation, it's likely that judges in 2021 feel the same way about COVID. At the current time, it’s estimated that at least 60% of American adults have received the vaccine, too, so that may also play a part in a court’s decision to rule in favor of the pro-vaccination parent.

Depending on your child’s age, they may also be able to have a say in court, too. A 15-year-old child who wants to get the vaccine, for example, might be able to give a statement to the judge. Similarly, it would be difficult to force a 15-year-old to get a vaccine that they don't want. Their preference will likely be taken into consideration by the judge.

 

Steps to Take if You Need Help to Vaccinate Your Children


Are you and your spouse arguing over whether or not to vaccinate your children? This difficult medical decision can’t be made by one parent alone if you currently have joint custody of your children. Instead, you need to petition the courts to help you and your spouse come to an arrangement.

To expedite the process, it’s always a good idea to hire a family lawyer who understands the urgency of getting your children vaccinated for COVID-19. They'll help you petition the courts ASAP and ensure that you take care of your children's health and safety.

Do you need the help of a qualified attorney with your current custody dispute? Due to the nature of the pandemic, you may need immediate help. Head over to our lawyer search now to find a skilled lawyer in your area who can help you get the court approval you need to vaccinate your children.


This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.


 
Scott Dylan Westerlund

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