Co-parenting and Vaccinations


Co-parenting is one of the most difficult relationships to navigate. This relationship becomes even more difficult when you disagree on a particular point regarding your child’s health or care. This is where a detailed parenting plan and experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney will be invaluable to your co-parenting relationship. If entering a child custody dispute or needing clarification or modification on an existing child custody arrangement seek out an experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney.

One issue that can be hotly debated between co-parents is vaccinations for a minor child. There has been a recent trend where some parents have declined to vaccinate their children. However, some parents are on opposite sides of this issue and this can result in a court action where the court will provide one parent with decision making authority regarding the specific topic. When determining any issue involving the care of a child the court is required to evaluate the circumstances under the lens of the best interest of the child. Therefore, the court will not determine which view on vaccinations is superior, rather the court must determine what is in the best interest of the child.

Courts may reach different conclusions on the issue but the courts do take a similar approach to each of the medical treatment arguments before them. The court first determines if the procedure or care under dispute is elective or necessary for the specific child. Then if the disagreement between the parents is based upon personal, religious beliefs, or scientific concerns. This two-step process, ultimately focuses on the potential harm that the child could incur by receiving or withholding the treatment. However, in vaccination cases, the court may also look to Florida law that requires certain vaccinations for school attendance unless the parents qualify for waiver through religious beliefs.

If a procedure, test, or vaccine is not medically necessary for the child the court is unlikely to require the parties to submit the child for this treatment. However, if the court does determine the treatment is more beneficial to the child than harmful, the court will determine the parent’s reasoning for the opposition. For instance, if religious reasons are the basis for the objection, the court places a great deal of weight on the freedom of religion granted under the constitution. However, the court may still determine that a child’s health and best interest outweighs the religious opposition. In order to provide the necessity of the treatment or benefits or harms to the child, it is critical to present adequate research, scientific norms, protocols, and may even require your child’s pediatrician to testify as to the need or lack thereof for the vaccine or procedure.

The issue of healthcare and procedures for a shared minor child have been presented to the court many times and different conclusions have been reached. In one case, the father wished to vaccinate the child and the mother did not based upon religious beliefs. After all evidence was presented, the court provided the mother with the medical decision-making authority. However, in another case with similar facts, the court determined that the father, who desired to vaccinate the child, with decision making authority, over the mother’s religious beliefs.

Vaccinations and medical procedures for a minor child where the parents are maintaining conflicting opinions can cause a great deal of hostility in the co-parenting relationship. Further, when brought before a court the issue is determined on a case by case basis and requires a great deal of evidence and argument to succeed. Therefore, employ an experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney to ensure your rights and desires are protected in the custody dispute.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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