Child Vaccinations: Which Parent Decides?
Life after divorce is never easy, particularly when there are children involved and the two parties need to co-parent together. Co-parents have to make many decisions regarding their child and one of these is if the child should receive vaccinations. Vaccinations were a hot topic of discussion during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the world has reopened and the pandemic is largely behind us, vaccinations are still an important issue for parents.
So, when two parents are divorced, who can determine if a child is vaccinated? Our Media child custody lawyer explains more below.
The Law on Vaccinations in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, all schools require children to be vaccinated. Before a child attends school of any age, they must receive at least five required vaccinations for a variety of illnesses. If a child does not receive these vaccinations, they may be excluded from school. There are some exceptions to the law. For example, if a parent objects to vaccinations for religious purposes, the child is exempt. If receiving a vaccination will negatively affect a child’s health, they are also exempt from the law.
If a parent objects to vaccinations for religious purposes, they must provide the school with written advance notice. If a vaccination will be harmful to a child’s health, the parents must obtain a doctor’s note describing how the vaccination will negatively impact the health of the child. Unfortunately, in child custody situations, it becomes a bit more complicated than that.
How Does Child Custody Affect Vaccination Decisions?
Child custody decisions must be made when two parents get a divorce, or were never married and are no longer together. There are two types of child custody in Pennsylvania, which are physical and legal. Physical custody stipulates which parent the child will live with, while legal custody determines which parent can make decisions for the child. As such, the parent who makes decisions about child vaccinations is the one with legal custody.
Family law judges will start any legal custody case by presuming it is in the best interests of the child for both parents to share in the decision-making process. If it is found that shared legal custody is not in the child’s best interests, one parent is awarded legal custody and they can make the decision on their own. When parents share legal custody, they must agree on the issue of child vaccinations.
If the parents share legal custody and cannot agree, the parties will have to go to court and allow a judge to decide. Unless the objection to vaccinations falls under one of the exemptions under the law, a judge will likely decide that a child must be vaccinated. This is due to the fact that judges always make decisions based on the child’s best interests, and vaccinations have been found to be very beneficial to the health of the child.
Our Child Custody Lawyer in Media Can Provide Sound Legal Advice
There are many child custody issues that can arise, and vaccinations are just one. At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, our Media child custody lawyer can provide the sound legal advice you need, negotiate with the other side on your behalf, and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call us now at 610-565-6100 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.