What If One Parent Wants to Vaccinate and One Objects During a Divorce
Vaccinations have become an increasingly hot button issue. Go to any local parents’ meetup and among the things you don’t talk about if you want people to like you is vaccinations, politics, and religion. Parent group etiquette is a given, but what do you do when you’re in the middle of a divorce and you and your ex are at a grid ock when it comes to vaccinating your child or children?
Ideally, you and your ex could work through your disagreements without lawyers. That saves you money and helps maintain healthy communication. But let’s face it: that’s not always possible. There are a few ways to go about approaching the vaccination issue.
Sole Legal Custody
If you have sole legal custody of your child, then you get the final say on vaccinations and all other decisions as they relate to your child. If the child’s other parent strongly disagrees with your decision, they could petition the court to change the custody order. The history of your case will play a major role in whether the judge grants the other parent’s decision.
Shared Custody, But Can’t Agree
Parents who share custody but cannot come to an agreement have a few options to consider. First, you can try to attempt mediation. This occurs through the courts, but doesn’t get a judge involved. Oftentimes couples can to to mediation two or three times and walk away with an agreement that is suitable to both parties (e.x. delayed vaccines). If mediation doesn’t work (and sometimes it doesn’t), then you can go to binding arbitration. During arbitration each side’s story is heard by a family lawyer and that person makes the decision. This costs both parents. Finally, you can go the traditional route of going to the judge. Judges don’t like to make these decisions. In fact, in one case two parents went through mediation four times, finally went to the judge, who just told them to go back to mediation, and then finally ended up in trial where the judge ultimately made the call.
Guardian Ad Litem
While in some states a judge might ask older children their wishes on the matter, in New Hampshire that is extremely unlikely. Sometimes, however, the Judge will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the children. This person will investigate the matter, and make a recommendation about what should happen.
Ultimately, when fighting for your child’s health, it’s important that you have a knowledgeable team on your side that can help you navigate the uncertain circumstances that come up when going through a divorce.
For more help with the question, what if one parent wants to vaccinate and one objects. Contact the Cohen and Winters Family Law team can help you determine how to best go about handling difficult situations as they arise and is committed to making your divorce go as smoothly as possible.