What Happens If Divorced Parents Disagree About the COVID-19 Vaccine?

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As of May 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to children ages 12 to 15. As safety and efficacy testing of the vaccines continue, it’s expected that children ages 2 and up will soon be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine after further authorizations. As the United States pushes vaccination efforts, many people remain hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine and some parents question the safety of the vaccine for use in children.

Parents with joint custody both have the right to make decisions about their children’s medical care. However, the controversy over the safety and efficacy of the vaccine poses a greater challenge for separated parents who may disagree on whether or not their children should receive the vaccine. Many divorced couples tend to resolve issues through co-parenting, but it can sometimes be hard to make a final decision and come to an agreement. While both parents may want different things, these decisions must be made with the best interests of the child in mind.

How Does Custody Play a Role in Medical Decisions?

When two parents decide to separate or get a divorce, one of the things they must create is a parenting plan. This can be done with the help of a Chattanooga divorce lawyer. The parenting plan outlines what each parent is responsible for, which parent has decision-making authority, where the child will live, and the rights of each parent regarding the care of the children. Most commonly, medical decisions are made jointly between parents. Regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, these matters may also include educational decisions as many schools begin to require vaccinations as part of their efforts to return to in-person learning.

If shared custody parents cannot come to an agreement, they can work with a mediator to help make decisions. If the two parents cannot reach an agreement with the help of a mediator, they may be forced to go to the court where the judge will have to decide. A judge will make a decision based on a variety of factors, including the child’s best interests and if either parent has the final decision in medical scenarios.

Does the Child Have a Say in the Decision?

Children may have an opinion on whether or not they receive the COVID-19 vaccine, especially children ages 12 to 15. However, the child’s perspective and impact on the matter depends on the circumstances. In Tennessee, the court may appoint guardian ad litem when the court finds that the child’s best interests are not protected by both parties and if separate representation is necessary. The opinions of teenagers may have more weight in court, but children 12 and under will not have a say in vaccination disputes.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer Today

Coming to an agreement on health matters and other decisions can be difficult for divorced parents. It can especially be challenging during unprecedented times. If the parents must go to court, it’s important to have an experienced divorce lawyer at your side who could help you prepare your case and advocate for your child’s best interests. Our attorneys at Yates & Wheland could help you advocate for your parental rights while working toward coming to an agreement on how to manage health matters for your child.

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