The vaccines used to combat Covid-19 are sometimes the cause of disputes between divorced parents of minor children. Childhood vaccinations have been part of the societal landscape for decades. Some vaccinations are required for children to enroll in school, while others are recommended but not mandatory. Covid vaccinations are optional among school age children in Michigan. An issue arises when one parent wants the child to be vaccinated against Covid while the other parent does not.
Covid vaccines are unlike those administered to school-age children for other diseases. Those have been in use for decades and underwent years of extensive testing. Out of necessity, the Covid vaccines were developed quickly with only short time frames for clinical testing. Much of the development process data and information about the contents of the vaccines are not available to the public. Governmental authorities attest that the vaccines are safe and effective. However, that narrative is not universally accepted.
A parent who has sole legal custody, either by agreement or by decision of the family court, has the right to choose whether or not to have their child vaccinated. The other parent has no decision making authority. However, the parents might reach an accord on having the child vaccinated at a certain age, on limiting the number and timing of vaccine boosters or on administering only a certain vaccine.
In situations where parents have joint legal custody and cannot agree as to vaccination, they may have to bring the issue to court. As in all child custody matters, the court’s overriding concern is the best interest of the child. It is unlikely that a family court judge will render an opinion as to whether it is better to vaccinate children against Covid or not. That is beyond the judicial purview. Rather, judges will render an opinion as to which parent is better suited to making the decision. This can be based on a variety of factors, such as each parent’s history of involvement with provision of the child’s health care.
Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights has wide experience representing Michigan parents in child custody disputes. Feel free to contact me online or call 833-671-4445 for an initial consultation.