Can I Challenge Custody if the Other Parent Refuses the COVID Vaccine?
What can you do if the other parent does not want to get the vaccine or refuses to vaccinate their children?
Vaccination has become a point of contention between divorced parents in many child custody cases. When awarding conservatorship and visitation rights upon parents’ divorce, Texas courts consider the best interests of the child.
“The child’s best interest” standard is also applicable in custody battles involving the vaccine. If you and your ex-spouse have a disagreement regarding the vaccine, talk to a Pearland child custody attorney to discuss your options.
What Happens if Parents Disagree About the Vaccine?
Vaccine-related legal disputes between divorced parents are not uncommon in the COVID-19 era. Common causes of conflicts between parents include:
- One parent refuses to get the vaccine, while the other one claims that the non-vaccinated parent puts their child at risk; and
- One parent wants to vaccinate their child against COVID-19, while the other parent objects to vaccination.
When any of these conflicts arise, the parents are encouraged to reach an agreement through out-of-court negotiations. However, if no agreement can be reached, the parents may have to try mediation or go to court. In the latter cases, the judge will make a decision based on the child’s best interests.
Can a Court Order a Parent to Get the Vaccine to Spend Time with Their Child?
Since courts are concerned with the best interests of the child, the judge is likely to argue that the parent’s vaccination would be in the child’s best interests.
After all, judges have the authority to order parents to attend anger management classes, complete substance abuse rehabilitation, and take other steps to make them better parents and ensure the child’s safety.
In other words, a judge may lean toward any reasonable action that would be in the child’s best interests and ordering a parent to get the vaccine to be allowed to spend with the child could be one of them.
If you or the other parent refuses to get vaccinated, speak with a child custody attorney to discuss your rights and options. Whether or not a parent can challenge the existing custody order because the other parent refuses to get the vaccine depends on the circumstances of the particular case.
Which Parent Has the Right to Vaccinate Their Children in Texas?
A parent’s right to vaccinate their children without the other parent’s permission depends on the parents’ custody (conservatorship) rights in Texas.
In most custody cases in Texas, both parents are named joint managing conservators, which means both of them must make joint decisions about most issues, including the vaccine.
When one parent wants to vaccinate their child, while the other does not think the child should get the vaccine, it is advisable to contact a skilled attorney to:
- Review the terms of the existing custody order to explore all available options;
- Determine if one parent has the final decision-making authority (in some custody orders, one parent may be awarded the final decision-making authority over healthcare decisions, including vaccination);
- Facilitate communication with the other parent to help you reach an agreement; and
- If no agreement is reached, take your case to court to let a judge decide for you.
One of the parents may be able to request a modification of the custody order by arguing that the other parent’s actions put the child’s health and safety in danger.
Speak with a Pearland Child Custody Attorney Today
If you and the other parent of your child have a dispute over the vaccine, do not hesitate to contact our child custody attorneys in Pearland, TX. Our knowledgeable and results-driven attorneys at John Powell III, P.C., are committed to helping you protect your interests and rights. Call 832-850-6095 or complete this contact form for a case review.