What Happens When Co-Parents Disagree on the COVID Vaccine

How Are Vaccine Disputes Handled in Florida?

While vaccinations for children used to be par for the course, there has been a rise in vaccine hesitancy among some parents in recent years. This can be difficult to navigate in the best of times, but this debate can be even more challenging to navigate when you are divorced. There are several reasons why some parents are unsure about vaccines, ranging from health concerns to religious prohibitions.

If divorced parents are at an impasse and cannot agree, it is not uncommon for the matter to go before the courts, where a judge will resolve the issue. After litigating the case, the courts typically appoint one parent ultimate decision-making power over that one issue.

When evaluating vaccine disputes, the courts consider several factors, including:

  • Is the vaccine necessary or elective?
  • Will the child be harmed in any way if they receive the vaccine or if the vaccine is withheld?
  • Does the child’s school require the vaccine for attendance?
  • What is the basis of each parent’s opinion – is it based on personal concerns, religious concerns, or medical concerns?

Ultimately, the courts are trying to determine what is in the best interest of the child. While the parents’ opinions matter, the court’s sole concern is the health and safety of the child.

To learn more about how courts handle vaccine disputes between co-parents, review our blog here.

What the CDC Says About Vaccinated Children for COVID

The CDC just recently approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 years of age and older. They are also encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated. Though some parents wonder if this is necessary because children have been infected with COVID at much lower rates than adults, the CDC believes that the vaccine is important for children.

Despite a lower infection rate, children are still getting sick from COVID-19, and the vaccine can protect them from getting seriously ill. Additionally, unvaccinated children are capable of spreading COVID to others.

Click here to read the CDC’s full guidance on COVID-19 vaccines for children 12 and older.

Will Florida Schools Require Proof of COVID Vaccination?

In April, Florida passed legislation making it illegal for schools to require that students provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. This surprised many as Florida already requires several vaccinations for children. Senate Bill 2006 directly prohibits “educational institutions from requiring students or residents to provide documentation certifying vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19.” As of May 3, 2021, the bill was approved by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Click here to view the full timeline of Senate Bill 2006.

What To Do If You & Your Co-Parent Disagree on the COVID Vaccine

Vaccine disputes between parents can get very hostile very quickly. It’s important to remember that, despite your disagreement, both you and your child’s other parent are concerned about the safety and well-being of your child. When you and your co-parent cannot reach an agreement regarding vaccinating your child, there are a few things you can try.

First, look back at your custody agreement and your parenting plan. Even if you share custody 50/50, there are situations in which one parent is granted the ultimate say in medical decisions. If this is the case, it will be listed in your custody agreement. Similarly, you and your co-parent may also have outlined how disputes will be resolved in your parenting plan. Because parents cannot predict the future, many will lay out preferred dispute resolution methods to follow when unexpected issues arise.

If your custody agreement doesn’t provide answers, you and your co-parent may wish to work with a mediator to negotiate the issue. Mediators are a neutral, third-party that does not represent either parent and instead helps facilitate a resolution to whatever dispute you are having. If you and your former spouse are still at odds, it may be time to take your matter to court.

How a Lawyer Can Help

When you struggle to resolve a co-parenting dispute, a skilled lawyer is a good place to turn for guidance. In addition to helping you understand the terms and conditions of your custody agreement, an experienced attorney can also represent you in mediation or when you take your matter before a judge. They can also use their experience to help you with other alternative dispute resolution methods you may not have tried.

At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., we have helped countless parents deal with vaccine disputes, and we know how important this matter is to you. Call us today to discuss your case.

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