Can Refusal of COVID-19 Vaccine Treatment Affect Custody?

The Coronavirus pandemic has provided families with numerous challenges over the past year. Adding the question of Covid-19 vaccination adds another issue to be considered. This is especially true for divorced families with children.

Divorced parents who share custody of their child share the parental responsibility for their child. In other situations, one parent may have sole parental responsibility. As vaccines are now approved for some children’s age groups, Florida parents must now come to terms with the question of whether and when to vaccinate their child against Covid-19. That is fine if the parents agree, but what happens when they do not?

In sole parental responsibility cases, the appointed parent makes decisions regarding such things as vaccination without conferring or agreeing with the other parent. In shared parental responsibility, both parents must confer and jointly make decisions regarding the welfare of their child. Vaccinations fall into this area. When parents are unable to work together, a judge must be involved.

A Motion for Custody Modification May Be Needed

In a case of sole parental responsibility, the other parent may bring a motion before the court asking the court to modify the custody arrangement. In a case of shared parental responsibility, the court may appoint one parent with the ultimate responsibility for making that decision. In both cases, one of the parents must bring a motion to modify the parental responsibility arrangement.

When a Court May Grant a Motion for Modification

There must be a substantial change in circumstances for the court to make a change to the arrangement. In making any change, the court is always guided by the best interests of the child. The parent bringing the motion must show that the decision being made by the other parent is or will be detrimental to the health, safety, and well-being of the child.

This motion may require expert witness testimony regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine proposed for use in the child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently approved Covid-19 vaccines for use in children as young as 12. However, some parents are understandably nervous about this vaccine. The vaccine was developed and tested quickly. Some feel the vaccine was brought to market without a clear understanding of its long-term effects. Others feel strongly that the vaccine is the only way to keep their child and others around the child safe from the coronavirus.

Florida law gives the judge an enormous amount of discretion in determining what is in the child’s best interests. While it is uncertain how a judge will rule in any given case, a judge should protect a child’s health and safety first and foremost.

Covid-19 vaccinations raise interesting and pressing family law issues. Parents who disagree likely feel strongly about their child’s health and safety. These issues must be resolved quickly for the sake of the child or children involved. If you are in a position of disagreement regarding the COVID-19 vaccination for your child, seek the help of an experienced Daytona Beach family law attorney. Your attorney can help you decide whether a custody modification is right for your circumstances.

Seek Counsel from a Daytona Beach Child Custody Lawyer

Your child is important to you. When your child is at risk, time and safety are of the essence. A modification may help. Bring your questions and concerns to an experienced Daytona Beach child custody lawyer at the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Klein. Call us at 386-252-3061 or contact us online today to get the help you need.



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