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Which parent decides if your kids get vaccinated?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Child Custody

The issue of child custody and vaccination decisions has become increasingly relevant in today’s world – and it’s a concern that doesn’t always have easy answers.

If you and your co-parent aren’t on the same page regarding vaccinations and other healthcare decisions for your child, who gets the final say?

In Florida, it’s a question of who holds the parental responsibility

In Florida, “parental responsibility” refers to the authority granted to parents to make decisions about their child’s welfare, including health care choices. In general, the court will usually order parental responsibility to be shared, which means that both parents would have an equal say on the issue. That can be a major problem if you and your co-parent are at an impasse over the issue of whether or not to vaccinate since that’s not a decision that easily lends itself to a compromise.

If you anticipated this particular problem, your parenting plan may already address the issue. The court does have the ability to designate one parent as the sole bearer of the parental responsibility for these kinds of medical decisions, even if other decisions that fall under the umbrella of parental responsibility are to be jointly made. If you did not, however, you may have to take the issue to court and let a judge make the decision based on your child’s best interests.

The court can consider numerous factors as it weighs the issue, but some of the most important may include:

  • The reason behind a parent’s objections to vaccinations, including whether or not it is due to a sincerely held religious belief
  • The credibility of any medical evidence each parent has for or against the use of vaccinations
  • The considered opinion of the child’s primary care physician or other medical experts about the issue

Each case is unique, so it’s important to understand that the outcome of one dispute over vaccinations may not reflect the outcome you’ll see in your case. What’s certain is that – whatever your feelings on the issue – it’s a topic that should be approached very carefully and with the assistance of experienced legal guidance.