Which parent gets to decide whether a child should be vaccinated?

Assuming your child custody order does not say which parent gets the tie-breaking vote over major medical decisions, whichever parent has the majority of overnights with a child on an annual basis has the right to make tie-breaking decisions such as whether a child should be vaccinated. However, the nonresidential parent has the right to file a motion with court asking it to make a different decision if they can show it is in their child’s best interest. Absent an emergency, the court may require the parents to attend mediation first before it weighs in on their dispute. But the Court may waive mediation in the event of an emergency situation.

Many parents have strong opinions either for or against vaccination against diseases like measles. As a general rule, Courts do not like to interfere with the authority of parents to raise their children as they see fit. However, Courts can take a parent’s resistance to vaccination into consideration when deciding custody and some parents have lost custody because they refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated. And in the case of a public health crisis such as a measles outbreak the Court could very well order a child to be vaccinated if either parent asked for it.

Give us a call today at 855-254-2600 for questions about your divorce or custody case.


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