What If My Ex and I Disagree About Vaccinations?

blog home custody agreements and COVID-19 vaccinations

Posted by Thomas Huguenor on Mar 24, 2021 in Custody

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its second year, we hope the new vaccines will end the lockdown for good and allow Californians to return to a sense of normalcy. Many elderly people and those with compromised immune systems will need a vaccine to withstand the full exposure of COVID-19. However, it can be difficult for divorced parents to agree on vaccinations, especially if one parent doesn’t believe in them.

When your ex doesn’t believe in vaccinations

Anti-vaccination sentiments have been rife since the early 1990s, with several celebrities raising questions about their side effects and effectiveness. This attitude has increased significantly in recent years. While reports indicate that more than 60% of people in the US will receive a COVID-19 vaccination as of December 2020, at least 18% said they would not be vaccinated and 39% are undecided, according to Pews Research.

The dangers of vaccines have been fiercely contested by numerous research groups. As a divorced parent, you can therefore struggle to convince your ex of the importance of vaccinating your child against COVID-19. You may not believe that the vaccine will protect your child, that they will have negative side effects, or you may be joining a misinformed conspiracy theory.

Either way, if they refuse to vaccinate your child or you want to prevent you from vaccinating your children, depending on your custody agreement, you may face certain legal challenges.

What are California’s Vaccination Laws?

California has a Vaccination Act, which falls under California Health and Safety Code 120325-120375, that has removed the “Freedom of Conviction” from vaccination requirements for California schools. This law requires parents to vaccinate their children if they want their children to attend public or private schools in California. However, this law does not apply to COVID-19 vaccinations and only requires vaccinations for:

  • diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Haemophilus influenza type B.
  • measles
  • mumps
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • poliomyelitis
  • rubella
  • tetanus
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Any other illness deemed appropriate by the California Department of Health

Who decides whether a child is vaccinated?

In the state of California, the parent who has custody has the final say on vaccinations. Custody means that one parent has the right to make certain legal, educational, and health decisions about a child, including vaccinations. If you have sole custody, you don’t need the other parent’s permission to vaccinate your child against COVID-19.

However, if you and your ex have joint custody or your ex has sole custody, you may need their permission. You can get caught up in messy arguments if you are strongly against vaccinations to protect your child. If so, you may need to seek a California judge for an arrest warrant for sole custody. However, these cases can be incredibly complex and a judge will base the decision on your child’s best interests.

If you’re having trouble with your custody agreement, contact the San Diego family law attorneys at Huguenor Mattis, APC. We have over 45 years of experience and are not afraid to tackle tough cases, including controversial custody disputes. We can examine your case in a free initial consultation and develop a detailed plan to stand up for the best interests of your child. Call us at (858) 458-9500 to get started.

Comments are closed.