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Who is Right in Child Custody Battles Over the Vaccine?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2021 | Custody |

Many divorced co-parents have custody battles over the vaccine for their children, but what happens when parents cannot come to an agreement?

As if the COVID-19 pandemic itself is not enough to worry about, many divorced co-parents are having a hard time reaching an agreement regarding the vaccine for their children.

In fact, according to a study cited by The New York Times, only three in 10 parents said they would vaccinate their kids from COVID-19 right away, while 26% of the surveyed parents said they would want to see if the vaccine is effective before their kids get vaccinated.

Many divorced co-parents cannot agree on the need to vaccinate their children from COVID-19. When one parent wants their kids to be vaccinated, while the other objects to vaccination, which parent is right in the dispute over the vaccine?

If you and the other parent cannot reach a consensus regarding vaccination for your child, consult with our family law child custody attorneys at Lomurro, Munson, Comer, Brown, and Schottland to discuss your legal rights and options.

A Court Can Force Parents to Vaccinate Their Children Despite Objection

While many parents are eager to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect their health, others are reluctant to vaccinate their kids due to religious beliefs or personal concerns.

However, prior cases indicate that New Jersey courts can force parents to vaccinate their children despite their objection. N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Permanency v. J.H. (N.J. Super. Feb. 14, 2014).

In 2014, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that the Department of Child Protection & Permanency can vaccinate kids without their parents’ permission.

During its investigation, the Department learned that the parents refused to vaccinate their kids by citing their religious beliefs. When the court analyzed the parents’ fitness, it granted custody of the kids to the Department and permitted it to vaccinate the children.

Is Vaccination Mandatory in New Jersey?

The school immunization rules in New Jersey require children to receive a series of immunizations prior to attendance at school. Under New Jersey law, parents cannot object to vaccination for their children due to personal exemptions.

Still, parents may legally object to vaccination by citing a medical or religious exemption. However, state law does not require private schools to accept immunization exemptions.

Currently, COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory for kids. However, given the turbulent times that we live in, courts may require children to get vaccinated from COVID-19 to attend schools.

What Happens When Parents Disagree About COVID-19 Vaccination for Kids?

In most cases, New Jersey courts prefer to award joint legal custody rights when parents get divorced. This type of child custody means that both parents must make decisions regarding their child’s healthcare, religion, education, and other major life issues jointly.

In other words, no parent who shares joint legal custody has the power to make a decision if the other parent disagrees with it. But what if co-parents cannot agree about COVID-19 vaccination?

In that case, the parents may need to go to court to let the judge hear their arguments and decide for them. If you are the parent who refuses to vaccinate your child, the judge may side with you if your refusal is based on your religious beliefs or a doctor’s testimony advising against vaccination.

However, if the other parent can prove that your refusal to vaccinate endangers the child’s health, the court may side with that parent in the absence of legitimate reasons for not vaccinating the child.

If you and your spouse have a custody battle over the vaccine, speak with our child custody lawyers to discuss your options. Our attorneys at Lomurro Munson LLC are prepared to help you resolve your dispute. Call 732-482-9285 to get a case review.