When divorced parents disagree on vaccines

Health professionals are quick to note that vaccines are safe, that there is no evidence they can harm a child and that they actually protect them from many very real threats, diseases which can be life-threatening for a young child. However, not all parents accept this science, and there are those who stand staunchly against vaccines.

For instance, one man said that his wife’s sisters all had children with autism. He did not think that the vaccines caused it, but she was not so sure. She did not want the children to get their vaccines like normal. They eventually agreed to give the children their shots but to do so slowly, rather than getting them all at once.

For a divorced couple, this topic can be a very tough one to deal with. Say that the father wants the children to get vaccinated and the mother does not. Both parents have legal custody — meaning they get to make medical decisions — of the children. They split physical custody, as well. Can the mother skip doctor’s appointments so that the children can’t get vaccinated? Can the father take them in to get vaccinated against her will when the kids are living with him? What rights do they have and what are they legally allowed to do when they simply cannot agree on what is in the children’s best interests?

These are all important questions to ask. Both parents love their children and want what is best for them. They just disagree on what that is. Are they going to wind up in court to decide who gets to make the decision?

If you find yourself in this position, be sure you understand your own legal rights.