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When Divorced Parents Disagree On COVID Vaccine For Their Children

Author: Florida Women's Law Group
Date: Sep 13 2021

When Divorced Parents Disagree about COVID Vaccine for Children

Covid has changed everyone’s life in some way in the last year.  The approval of vaccinations has made a huge impact on day-to-day life but has also caused much discord between people who are either for or against it.  The CDC has approved COVID vaccinations for children 12 and older and approval for even younger children is on the horizon.  What happens when divorced parents don’t agree on vaccinating their children?  Family law attorneys are seeing more and more cases involving this issue and it’s likely to only increase as pressure to vaccinate intensifies.

The COVID vaccine has brought many people to arguments, you only have to watch the daily news to see the divide on getting it versus not.  When it comes to vaccinating children, emotions are intensified as parents only want the best for their children.  This can be a hot debate amongst married parents but for divorced parents it is even more complicated.  Both parents could have been on-board for the traditional vaccines when their kids were small but there are parents who have reservations about the COVID vaccine.  Some feel that it was rushed through approval, and they are not comfortable with what the side effects may be or uncertain about the long-term impact on their children’s health.  This has been a confusing time and there is a lot of conflicting information floating around that has led to fear amongst parents.

You Disagree, Now What?

The first step in a disagreement with your ex about vaccination is to refer to your divorce agreement to see who has parental responsibility.  If you have sole parental responsibility for medical decisions, then you can make the decision alone on whether to vaccinate or not.  Florida courts prefer that parents have shared parental responsibility, which means you both must agree on medical decisions.  If this is your situation then you need to come to a resolution with your ex on the matter.

Ways to Resolve the Vaccination Issue

The first step in trying to resolve the issue is communication.  Try and talk to your ex in a mature way that allows for both of you to express your viewpoints.  It’s important to separate your emotions towards your ex and the divorce from the matter at hand which is your child.  Be open-minded and try to understand your ex’s point of view, you expect the same from them, so you have to be willing to listen and respect their opinions.

If you still can’t agree the next step would be to talk to your family pediatrician and get their expert, medical opinion.  Enlisting a neutral third party can help as you discuss the pros and cons of vaccination.  Mediation is also an option to hash out your differences and try to come to a joint decision

If your child or children are older teens, ask them how they feel about the vaccination.  Some teens have strong opinions on the matter.  Ultimately, as their parents you make the final decision, but it is important to listen to how they feel and take it into consideration.

When to Involve an Attorney

If you have talked until you’re blue in the face and you still disagree it may be time to involve an attorney.  You can petition the court for a modification of parental responsibilities, but you will have to prove a significant change in circumstances for a judge to approve it.

When a case like this is brought to the courts, it is a difficult decision for a judge to make.  In Florida, judges always have the child’s best interest in mind in any case.  A clear case will have to be made which includes evidence and documentation to support your position.   A judge will consider personal opinions, but evidence carries much more weight in the outcome.

A judge will consider several factors before making their decision.  These include:

  • Is the child immunocompromised?
  • Does their school or activities require vaccinations?
  • If the child is an older, mature teen, they may consider their opinions.
  • Each parent’s level of involvement in the child’s care.
  • Opinion of pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Expert opinions and CDC guidelines.

In these types of cases judges will typically lean toward scientific evidence and what is recommended by doctors.  In looking at the best interest of the child it is more likely that they will rule in favor of vaccination unless a strong reason against it is proven.

This is a difficult situation as both parents will have very strong feelings on the subject.  There is little room for compromise as well, this is really a yes or no matter.  In the end you both need to remember that it is about the health and well-being of your child and all other emotions need to be removed from the conversation.

Co-parenting is complicated and emotional, and when you disagree on a major decision involving your children it is even more difficult. If you are in a dispute with your ex regarding parenting, we have the experience, resources, and skills required to provide you with empathetic and compassionate legal service. Trust the experienced team of attorneys at Florida Women’s Law Group who are committed to providing you a positive experience all while seamlessly handling the meticulous details.

Florida Women’s Law Group