Vaccination is often a contentious matter. Some choose to receive vaccines, while others choose not to. For parents that are divorcing that have opposing viewpoints on vaccines, difficulties arise regarding their children’s visitation rights and schedules. Divorce cases that had been untouched and inactive for years are now being reopened in families with incompatible beliefs or levels of comfort regarding COVID. In cases where children are involved with both parents, there is often disagreement about what arrangement is safest for everyone, prompting some separated families to go to Court. This has added another ethical dimension to a terrain that is already fraught with complications.
How COVID is Directly Affecting Legal Custody
Courts everywhere are having to deal with disagreements about vaccinations, masks, social distancing, quarantine timelines, or whether someone symptomatic should quarantine at all. There are cases of one parent requesting that the other be denied visitation unless they were vaccinated. Indeed, a judge on the Supreme Court of the State of New York found that a mother was legally allowed to require her ex-husband to either get vaccinated or take Covid tests to see his child. In another instance, an Illinois judge revoked custody rights from an unvaccinated mother. Although this decision was reversed in Illinois weeks later, it demonstrates that the issue exists, it presents serious considerations for all involved, and the Courts make decisions and rulings with serious consequences for all parties involved.
COVID and Child Custody
Similarly, Courts have seen an increase in cases concerning child vaccination. Parents who disagree about vaccination must resort to judges to resolve the conflict. Parents have argued that their kids are missing out on school, activities, or socialization because of vaccine requirements. Parents have also argued that the benefits outweigh any potential risks of vaccination. Many judges have based their decisions on medical advice or past vaccination records; these decisions often vary from person to person and judge to judge.
Why Finding Solutions Is Not Easy
To many parents, vaccination is an urgent issue that deserves to be immediately addressed. However, judges often do not agree on the issue. Many Court proceedings were delayed due to pandemic-related issues. This COVID phenomenon has led many attorneys to find other ways to come to a solution, such as communicating with the opposing party personally rather than in a courtroom.
Doing What Is Best for Your Child
With new COVID-19-related information and updates being frequently released, it is important to seek outside help you may need to do what is best for your child. If you need external resources regarding legalities with COVID-19 and your child, The Colwell Law Group is here to help. Book consultations or reach out to us right away with any questions you have.