The nation has suffered greatly from the COVID-19 pandemic with the loss of hundreds of thousands of people who died from the dreadful virus. Current news reports that almost as many people are dying every day from the illness today as died a year ago. The difference is that this year, almost 100 percent of those who get sick and/or die are people who have not been vaccinated.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved vaccinations for children ages 5 and up. This has created a controversy between many divorced parents due to their disagreement about whether to vaccinate their children. There are a few ways to help them resolve this issue.
Look to the Original Conservatorship Order
The first step is to look to the original conservatorship order to see which parent has the healthcare decision-making authority.
Sole managing conservatorship. The parent who has sole managing conservatorship can make the decision to vaccinate the children without consulting the other parent. If the other parent objects to the vaccination of the children, that parent must file a petition with the court asking for a modification of the court order on this issue.
It may be too late. The parent who has the responsibility for making the healthcare decisions can have the children vaccinated and the other parent has no recourse.
If the sole managing conservator refuses to have the children vaccinated, the other parent may petition the court and ask for an order requiring the children to be vaccinated.
Joint managing conservatorship. If the parents have joint decision-making authority and disagree, they can ask for court intervention. A parent in this situation who has the children vaccinated over the objection of the other party is in contempt of court.
When resolving this dispute between the parents, the court will always rule based on what it believes is in the best interest of the children. On this issue, the court will consider:
- Which parent has generally made the healthcare decisions for the children.
- The opinion of the children’s doctor.
- The age of the children.
- The wishes of children who are over the age of 12.
In most cases, the court will not specifically order that the children be vaccinated but will give one parent the decision-making authority on this issue.
For assistance with your dispute over COVID-19 vaccinations for your children, or for help with any issue concerning your divorce, contact attorney Daniel Abasolo at Springer & Lyle.