Aug 3, 2021
Covid Vaccine and Custody? Decisions for Parents to Make
Parents will soon face very important medical decisions for their children. The Covid-19 vaccinations have been approved for children over the age of 12 and vaccination trials are currently underway for children 12 and under. Accordingly, is is likely that the Covid-19 vaccine will be approved for young children soon. This, of course, will lead to custody disputes between parents as to whether or not a child should be vaccinated.
Michael E. Hughes, Esquire, Attorney-Mediator at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation discusses.
The vast majority of parents in Pennsylvania share joint legal custody of their children. Accordingly, both parents have to agree on issues of legal custody for their children including, but not limited to medical decisions, and choices regarding religion and schooling. These medical decisions include a decision with regard to their children receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. If a parent has sole legal custody of the children, that parent can make the vaccination decision for his or her children. If parents have joint legal custody, the parents have to come to an agreement on the decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate their children. If they cannot agree, but one parent feels that their children should receive the vaccine, that parent can file a motion asking the court to modify legal custody. The court, in making a determination, would render a decision on whether one parent alone can make certain decisions regarding the children. The court is essentially making a decision regarding whether or not the parties children will receive the vaccine. Before making such a decision, a court would want to hear testimony from both parents and possibly medical experts regarding why a child should or should not be vaccinated.
Through the mediation process, a mediator can try to assist parents to understand the reasons they disagree about the Covid 19 vaccine and see if there are ways to come to a meeting of the minds. One parent may be extremely uncomfortable with the Covid 19 vaccine because it is so new. A mediator may be able to get both parties to agree to wait for a while as more trials and testing is done on the vaccine or the parties agree that they will revisit the issue in six to 9 months, or that their child will get the vaccine at a certain age. Additionally, both parents may want to speak with medical experts regarding the vaccine and speak with their doctors and/or the children’s pediatrician to understand the benefits of the vaccine prior to making the decision for their children.
Decisions regarding vaccinations are like any other custody issue. These are potential areas of dispute between parties that require each parent to consider what is truly in their child’s best interest. These decisions require careful consideration from both parents a mediator can assist both parties to try and find common ground for what is in the best interests of their children.
If you have any questions or would just like information about how Alpha’s mediation program may work for you, please reach out to use at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation.