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What Happens If Parents Disagree on COVID-19 Vaccination?


Not all parents agree to have their children vaccinated for coronavirus (COVID-19). But what happens when divorced parents disagree on COVID-19 vaccinations? Can a Florida court force you to vaccinate your child for coronavirus?

Whether or not federal, state, or local courts can push parents to vaccinate their children child for COVID-19 without their permission depends on the details of each unique case and the laws and regulations enacted by the authorities after the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When parents cannot agree upon COVID-19 vaccination

If divorced or unmarried parents disagree upon coronavirus vaccinations, whether or not a child will be vaccinated for COVID-19 depends on who has sole parental responsibility for healthcare decisions. If you have sole parental responsibility for medical decisions, it will be up to you whether to vaccinate your child for COVID-19 or not.

If a Florida court granted shared responsibility upon your divorce, both parents have the right to decide in the vaccination dispute. If you are not sure who has parental responsibility for medical care, you should review your settlement agreement or divorce decree.

Prior to granting sole or shared responsibility upon a divorce, Florida courts must consider the child’s best interests as provided in Section 61.13, Florida Statutes.

Typically, when parents cannot agree on matters of parental responsibility, the court will assign parental responsibility based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Modifying parental responsibility due to disagreements over COVID-19 vaccination

Under Florida law, parents may request a modification of the parental responsibility assignment if there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

Florida courts will only modify the allocation of parental responsibilities if doing so is in the best interest of the child. Whether or not disagreements over COVID-19 vaccination qualifies as a substantial change in circumstances should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

If the parent who has sole parental responsibility for medical decisions refuses to vaccinate their child for COVID-19, but the other parent wants their child to be vaccinated, they may petition the court to modify the allocation of parental responsibility. However, the petitioning parent will be required to prove that COVID-19 is “a substantial change in circumstances” and that the coronavirus vaccine would be in the child’s best interest.

Regardless of which side you fall on the issue, it is important to seek legal counsel from an experienced child custody lawyer in Florida to help you prove your point in court. The court will most likely hear expert medical testimony on the issue of COVID-19 vaccination to decide whether or not to modify parental responsibilities.

Can a court issue an order for COVID-19 vaccination?

In rare cases, the court can order vaccination or any other medical procedure without the parents’ permission. This can happen if the court has evidence of medical neglect of a child.

During these times of uncertainty, parents should discuss the need for COVID-19 vaccination to avoid unnecessary disputes. If the parents cannot find a middle ground on the issue, they may want to consult with an attorney.

Schedule a consultation with our Orlando child custody attorney at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., to discuss the issue of COVID-19 vaccination in your case. Call at 407-521-7171 for a case review.

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