When divorced parents don’t agree on vaccinations for their children, what happens?
The pandemic has brought to light a question that has been around for some time – when divorced parents don’t agree on vaccinations, what happens? The choice of whether to get children vaccinated may not be an easy one to make for many parents. For those parents who are divorced or separated, vaccinations by way of joint decision may be even tougher.
Some parents are skeptical about having their children vaccinated for fear of putting a child in harm’s way. But, on the other hand, parents on the other side of the coin do not want to allow potentially preventable illnesses to befall their children.
So, what happens if parents are split on the matter?
A divorce, no matter how amicable, likely caused hard feelings. So cooperation and open communication may be difficult. Regardless, the parents need to explain their options and opinions whether in favor or opposed to vaccinations.
The rights of the parents can depend on the child custody agreement and which parent has more of the decision-making rights. If the parents have exactly equal physical custody, and joint legal custody, the parents would have to come to a joint decision.
If that joint decision cannot happen, there may be a need for a third party to intervene such as a mediator or an arbitrator, or a judge upon a motion being filed.
Much of the conflict between parents about vaccinations is likely due to the individual’s personal feelings about the issue. A judge is not likely to take a parent’s personal feelings into account when deciding whether a child should be vaccinated. Instead, the judge will act in a way that the judge holds to be in the child’s best interest.
The decision to vaccinate children against COVID-19 could also come down to what schools may require in the future. A school district can set down requirements that school age children over a certain age must be vaccinated if they want to return to the classroom or participate in school activities.
Right now, in New Jersey, no hard and fast answers as to how best to handle this kind of conflict exist. Issues like these have been the subject of much debate and some families have found themselves in litigation. We have seen over the course of the last year plus the pandemic has created new ways of thinking about law. The best tip parents should follow is remembering these decisions are solely about the child as parents can expect the Court to do the same.
Ronald Lieberman, Esq. is a partner and shareholder at Adinolfi, Lieberman, Burick, Roberto & Molotsky, PA. Ron represents clients throughout New Jersey as they deal with their unique family law matters. If you are having a dispute regarding parenting issues with your co-parent and cannot move to resolution, Ron has significant experience handling these sensitive matters. Contact our office for a confidential consultation today.