What if Divorced Parents Disagree on Whether their Children Should Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?


If you’ve watched the news even a couple of times in 2021, you’re likely familiar with the term “vaccine hesitation”. Some people are going to get a COVID-19 vaccine no matter what, some people will not get a vaccine under any circumstances, and then there’s the third group that most people fall into at least a little: unsure. Whether it’s concern over the “warp speed” development, a lack of long-term data, potential ineffectiveness against mutations, or just the prospect of better vaccine choices in the pipeline; not everyone is going to agree about when or if they want to receive the vaccine. And while the medical community has a lot of information to ease our fears, and many people consider the risk posed to them by the virus to be more significant than the risks associated with the vaccine, it’s different when it applies to our kids. This is especially true since their complication risk with the virus seems to be quite low, and there are still a lot of questions surrounding the vaccines. So what do divorced or separated parents do if they cannot agree on whether their children should be vaccinated?

The Type of Custody You Have Matters

If one parent has sole legal custody of the child, that parent is responsible for all major medical decisions, so they would make the ultimate decision on whether to vaccinate the child. If there is a shared legal custody arrangement, then the parents will need to agree on how to proceed. In an article on DivorceMag.com regarding this topic, they suggest that parents try their best to reach an agreement or seek mediation. However, since people are very passionate in their opinions about this particular topic, mediation may not be sufficient, and the parents may need to have the issue resolved in court.

Preparing for a Court Dispute

If there is no other way to reach an agreement about whether your child should receive a COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll need to prepare your case. The DivorceMag.com article recommends gathering the following:

  • Evidence supporting your decision on whether or not the child should be vaccinated. This can include information from the child’s pediatrician and relevant parts of the child’s medical history.
  • Proof that you are typically the parent more involved in medical decisions for the child, if applicable.
  • Information about your religious beliefs that may be factors in your decision.

The court will use this information to make the decision that is in the best interest of the child.

You Have Some Time

The good news is that a vaccine is not yet authorized for use in kids under 12 (Pfizer-BioNTech) or 18 (Moderna and Janssen) in the US. Furthermore, the authorization for kids aged 12-15 to receive the Pfizer vaccine is very recent, and unlikely to be commonplace right away. The extra time may help make the decision easier as there will be more data available in adults by the time juvenile use is authorized or approved. Also, you can start the conversation with your co-parent now to help you both understand where you agree and where you may need to persuade or compromise. Hopefully you won’t need to go to court, but if you do, you can be better prepared.

Hobson / Oram Law

Hobson Oram Law