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Philadelphia Family Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Who Determines If Your Children Are Vaccinated After Divorce?

Who Determines If Your Children Are Vaccinated After Divorce?


This is becoming a hot-button issue post-COVID. Some parents believe the medical-industrial complex and think that vaccination helps protect their children from preventable diseases while other parents fear that the vaccinations may turn their children gay, cause autism, or make them spontaneously change genders. While there is good scientific evidence for believing medical experts on the topic, there appears to be only baseless paranoia and naive anti-authoritarianism on the other side. For parents, however, the issue is a matter of life and death.

Understanding the law 

There are two factors that are extremely important and seem to be at odds. First of all, legal custody means that you have decision-making power over the child’s health care decisions. Secondly, the courts want to ensure that the children are being properly taken care of. The legal authority of a parent over a child is sacrosanct in the U.S. In cases where two parents have legal custody of a child, the decision must be made jointly by both parents.

This resulted in several instances of two parents going to court over whether or not their children should be vaccinated against COVID. Since both parents had legal custody, the consent of both parents was required. This meant the courts were forced to decide the matter.

The arguments

 Most parents will not go into court with rabid paranoia as the foundation of their argument. Instead, they have rational fears that they present to the judge. These rational fears include data that indicates that children are less susceptible to COVID-19 than adults and data concerning the vaccine simply doesn’t exist since it’s so new. These fears are founded in rational considerations and do not include conspiracy theories concerning minority communities.

On the other hand, parents who advocate for vaccination believe the benefits far outweigh the risks, prevent the virus from spreading and propagating, and reduce symptoms to manageable levels if the child becomes infected. Additionally, children are not immune from the serious side effects of COVID-19. The newer variations, including omicron, hospitalized unvaccinated children at five times the rate of unvaccinated. The problem, of course, is that we’re learning as we go and old information is being used to buttress these arguments.

While doctors would unilaterally favor a parent who chose to vaccinate their children, a parent in Pennsylvania with shared custody would be violating a court order if they vaccinate the child without the consent of the other parent. Hence, the matter was taken to court. Courts always defer to the best interests of the child. In a case like this, the prevailing opinions of the medical community would decide if the child were vaccinated. This resulted in scoped rulings that gave a parent the legal right to have a child vaccinated without the consent of the other parent. But the ruling did not extend beyond the COVID-19 vaccine unless the arguments were so unhinged as to represent a threat to the child’s wellbeing.

Talk to a Pennsylvania Child Custody Attorney Today 

Philadelphia divorce lawyer Lauren H. Kane represents the interests of parents who are in custody disputes with other parents or are having difficulties deciding the best interests of the child. Call today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your options immediately.



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