Few topics are as hot-button as medical decisions made by divorced parents who disagree on the subject. Questions like whether a child with ADD should be medicated or not have caused tensions between ex-spouses for years.
In recent years, the issue of Covid vaccines has arisen to become one of the most contentious issues Anderson Keuscher attorneys have had to guide parents through.
Recently, Jessica was called upon to answer a divorce question during Love Court on the Alice 96.5 Morning Show regarding the violation of vaccination rights.
The question was:
“If my ex-husband got our child a covid shot without my knowledge, and I find out later that he got a covid shot, does that mean that I can take him to court because in our court order it states we do have to discuss his health because we have joint custody?”
Read on to learn about the response Jessica has for parents in this situation.
Medical Decisions for a Child After Divorce
Whoever has legal custody of the children is primarily responsible for making medical decisions for them. When one parent has sole legal custody, that parent can make medical decisions for the minor without consulting the other parent (or the court). When parents share legal custody, neither parent can make medical decisions for the child without the permission of the other.
Technically, a decision about vaccination must be agreed upon by both parents to respect the terms of the custody agreement. So the father is in the wrong here in terms of how he went about making the decision. There should have been clear communication between the parents on the subject before any action was taken.
What Happens When Parents Disagree?
In the case of a disagreement between the ex-spouses on a medical decision involving children, the parents would need to go to court, present their case, and let the judge decide. The judge’s ruling would then be the final word on the subject. Sometimes, this is the best course of action since it takes the decision out of the hands of the parents who can’t see eye-to-eye on the issue. In an ideal situation, there would be open communication between individuals and a strong co-parenting relationship, with a well-established parenting plan in place.
When it comes to medical decisions, in the vast majority of cases, the judge will defer to the pediatrician or doctor’s recommendation. While both parents have a right to decide what they want for their child in terms of vaccination, no one parent’s opinion trumps the other. At the end of the day, the judge will decide–and will side with the healthcare provider.
Pick Your Battles
In this specific situation concerning the Covid vaccine, the mother shouldn’t bother bringing the issue to court for a couple of reasons. First, it already happened. The decision was made, action was taken, and no amount of fighting it out in front of the judge will change that outcome. Second, since the judge will side with the pediatrician’s recommendation–and that is most likely going to rest with getting the Covid vaccine–it’s a losing battle.
As much as possible, we recommend that parents try to settle things out of court with mediation. However, when you can’t agree, bring it to a judge for a final ruling. At the end of the day, the decision is always centered on the child’s well-being and best interests.
The questions of vaccinations and other medical care decisions are meant to be decided by both parents. However, it’s likely that ex-spouses won’t agree on everything; that’s what the judge is for.
Anderson Keuscher PLLC is a renowned law firm in Reno focused on Family Law, Divorce Law, and property division. We understand that going through the process of co-parenting can be complicated. Our competent lawyers handle every case in a considerate and thoughtful manner. We help our clients navigate legal obstacles and go above and beyond to protect their legal rights and financial interests.
If you’re going through some issues with your custody agreement and medical decisions and are looking for a reliable family attorney to look after your best interests, get in touch with Anderson Keuscher PLLC.