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Philadelphia Family Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Which Parent Decides if a Child can Be Vaccinated?

Which Parent Decides if a Child can Be Vaccinated?


Life after divorce is never easy, particularly when you have to work with your former spouse and you may have feelings of resentment towards them. When parents get divorced, they do still have to work together in order to ensure the child’s best interests are met. Many times, this only means that parents have to cooperate when dropping their child off and picking them up for visitation. Sometimes though, it becomes a bit more complicated than that. In some instances, parents may have differing views about important decisions, such as getting their child vaccinated. So, in a custody situation, which parent can make this decision?

Law on Vaccinations

Schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey require that all children are vaccinated, although there are some exceptions allowed under the law. These two exceptions are when a vaccination will be detrimental to the health of the child, or when the parent or guardian objects to the vaccination for religious reasons.

When a parent chooses not to vaccinate their child based on these grounds, they may obtain a doctor’s note outlining how the vaccination will be harmful to the child’s health. Alternatively, a parent or guardian may provide notice in writing that they object to the vaccine for religious reasons. In custody situations, however, it may work a little differently.

Vaccinations and Child Custody

During divorce proceedings, judges typically attempt to award both parents legal shared custody. This term refers to a parent having the authority to make important decisions for the child. When only one parent has legal custody, which happens in rare circumstances, he or she can decide on his or her own whether he or she wants, his or her child to be vaccinated or not. When parents share legal custody and cannot agree on vaccinations, the matter will go to court for a judge to decide.

Judges will take two main factors into consideration when making their decision. The first is the reasoning of that parent that objects to the vaccination. If the decision complies with the law and the objection is due to a medical or religious reason, a judge may determine that the child is not to receive vaccinations. However, judges will always weigh most heavily what is in the best interests of the child. Due to the overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccinations are beneficial to a child’s health, the judge will likely rule that the child should be vaccinated. The only exception to this is when substantial and compelling evidence is presented that favors not vaccinating the child.

Our Pennsylvania and New Jersey Family Lawyer can Help with Your Custody Issues

Vaccinations are just one type of child custody issue parents may have after they get divorced. If you have a problem with your child custody arrangement, or you are about to get a divorce and need help securing child custody, call our Philadelphia divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane. Attorney Kane will advise on Pennsylvania and New Jersey law and how it applies to your case, and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. When you need legal help, call us at (215) 918-9453 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.


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