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Resolving vaccination disputes in family court

On Behalf of | Dec 10, 2021 | Firm News

Whether the marital dissolution is cooperative or contentious, the divorce process is legally complex and emotionally charged. Whether in the midst of the process or ready to finalize, couples prepare to go their separate ways and start lives under a new dynamic.

A multitude of issues will likely arise, which forces couples into the courtroom. With a continuing pandemic, already divorced spouses and soon-to-be exes may find themselves at odds over related and highly contentious issues large and small. Lately, the approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children five and older is creating significant division and starting to fill up family court dockets.

A contentious issue

One parent wants a child to receive the “jabs,” while the other opposes the move. These scenarios usually see both sides of the argument with extreme viewpoints. With this highly contentious issue, reasonable compromises may be the exception, not the rule. Finding a middle ground in any issue related to parental disputes presents challenges, let alone one that is extremely divisive, with both sides digging in.

Custody-related vaccine issues are nothing new in divorce-related disputes. However, the handful of cases could potentially turn into floodgates breaking with parents at odds over the health and well-being of their children like never before.

The role judges play is not so much about the legitimacy of the vaccine and who should receive it as it is resolving the dispute. Instead of taking sides on vaccinations, judges have the authority to award sole legal custody to one parent to make the decision to or not to vaccinate the children. Those rulings come after reviewing recommendations of the child’s physician and considering any previous objections to vaccines by parents in opposition.

While disputes over vaccines have valid concerns, the issues bubbling to the surface may come from deeper issues with parents sharing custody. Looking out for the best interests of children is of paramount importance, regardless of an ongoing pandemic.