When exes disagree on the Covid vaccine for children

To get or not to get. That is the dilemma facing many parents today concerning their children and the Covid 19 vaccine. Mom says yes; dad says no. Or vice versa. What should be done when exes disagree on the Covid vaccine for children?

Both sides have legitimate concerns.

The pro side argues that studies show your chances of contracting the virus decrease after getting the vaccine. Other studies show that if you have the vaccine and do contract the virus, your symptoms are much less severe.

The con side argues that the vaccine has not existed long enough to know whether it will cause long term side effects, and that long-term side effects are a lot more of a concern to somebody who is 15 than someone who is 75. Also, the con side argues, COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration for commercial use.

Tough call with no easy solution. Should you find yourself in the above predicament, consider the following steps:

Discourse – Before threatening legal action and accusing your ex of “trying to kill our children,” try reasoning with your former partner. It doesn’t matter if you believe giving the vaccine to your children is tantamount to treating them like the Frankenstein monster, or if you believe withholding the vaccine out of fear is little more than Conspiracy Theory-thinking. Remember your ex loves the children as much as you do and is honestly looking out for the children’s best interests. Explain your position while recognizing the concerns of your ex. If you can, try to provide answers that will alleviate your ex’s concerns. DO NOT make this a battle. Your goal here is to see where the disagreement comes from and to find an acceptable solution.

If Discourse fails, read your Court Order: If talking fails and you cannot come to an agreement, read your Court Order.  California has two kinds of custody: physical (which determines how much time a child spends with each parent) and legal (which spells out which parent holds the decision-making power for the health, safety, and welfare of the children).  Whether or not to vaccinate for COVID would come under legal custody.  If you have sole legal custody, problem solved. The decision is yours whether the other parent agrees or not.

If Legal Custody is shared, the Court Order should detail the next step – If like most parents in California you have shared or joint legal custody, your Court Order should provide instructions for what to do when you and your ex disagree on a matter.  Are you supposed to rely on a third-party decider? Flip a coin?  Return to mediation?  Whatever the Order says is what you must do next.

If all else fails, file a Request for Order – If all other options have failed, you must file a Request for Order with the court so the Judge handling your case can make the vaccination decision. You will be expected to go to mediation first, so request a mediation date when you file the Request for Order with the court. Who will win, the parent wanting the child vaccinated or the parent not wanting the child to get the COVID vaccine? That is entirely up to the Judge.  California law does not have binding legal decisions in this area yet, so the winner will be the party who convinces the Judge they have the better argument. 

***One important piece of information to keep in mind when exes disagree on the Covid vaccine for children:  the COVID vaccines are still considered “emergency use” only.  If you are the parent wanting to get the child vaccinated, you might do better in court if you wait until the vaccines are approved for general use in children of your child’s age group.