With the advent of the various vaccines for COVID, and the CDC now allowing some children (under the age of 18) to be vaccinated, the question of whether to vaccinate your child is a decision some parents do not agree on. When parents don’t agree, and they are subject to a court-ordered parenting plan to make joint legal custody decisions through either a divorce or paternity action, there are several steps that can be taken to resolve the issue.
The first step in any legal custody disagreement is usually to ask a trusted individual who is treating the child by agreement of the parents. So in the instance of a vaccine, you would want to ask the opinion of your child’s pediatrician as to whether your child should be vaccinated. If you disagree with the pediatrician, you may need to prove your reasoning for not agreeing with that advice, because if a case goes to court on the issue, a judge will often look to the pediatrician for their advice.
If you are still unable to come to an agreement after consulting a neutral third party like a pediatrician, you can ask the other parent to go to mediation to try to resolve the issue. Mediation is a process by which you and the other parent will talk to a trained mediator (often a family law attorney or therapist) to try to resolve the issue. The mediator, however, cannot make the decision for you, and can only assist you in trying to negotiate a resolution.
If mediation still does not resolve the disagreement, you may need to seek the advice of a family law attorney to go to court to either allow you to vaccinate your child, or prevent your child from being vaccinated. Going to court for these issues can be time-consuming and expensive, but if there is no other way to agree, seeking a judge’s order is the only way to resolve the matter.