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Who Chooses if Your Child is Vaccinated?

Parents splitting custody may not agree on a vaccination plan, so who gets to decide?

The second school year in a pandemic is well on the way and with mask mandates in place and vaccinations encouraged for those 12 years and older, families are still living under a strong COVID-19 influence. 

Who Chooses if Your Child is Vaccinated?
Who Chooses if Your Child is Vaccinated?

Who Chooses if Your Child is Vaccinated?

One decision that parents are making this year is whether to vaccinate their child against the COVID-19 virus. The BC Provincial Health Officer (PHO) has recommended that those 12 years and older do get vaccinated with a first and second dose, but not all BC parents are on board. This can be a difficult conversation to have with a spouse or partner, but things are even more complicated when a child is involved. When couples splitting guardianship and custody differ on their child’s vaccination plan, who gets to decide? The family lawyers at Clark Woods LLP give their advice so that separated families can brace for what’s to come. 

The Final Decision

When two parents cannot agree on their child’s medical interests, one or both may ask a lawyer to file an application for the court to decide. In British Columbia, considerations about matters involving children are governed by the “best interests test.”  This means that every decision is guided only by what is in that particular child’s best interest, taking into account empirical and personal evidence. An application like this can be made on an urgent basis, with a short turn around before getting in front of a judge.

Parents That Don’t Agree on the COVID-19 Vaccine

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, if parents disagree on vaccinating their child, the judge will consider how old the child is, any medical situation that is particular to the child, if they were already attending school, the impact of not going to school to see peers and teachers if they became ill, and missing out on social and educational interactions. However, in most cases, judges will make decisions consistent with the recommendations of BC’s PHO.

Because it is possible that the parents may take inconsistent actions with the child during their own parenting time (ie. keep them home from school vs. sending them to school), and cause a serious disruption to a child’s daily routine and cause stress, it is best to act quickly. This will help limit the emotional distress, limit potential loss of school time for the child, and also assist in coming to a non-biased conclusion based on the best interest of the child. 

Not sure what to do next? Contact Clark Woods LLP by visiting clarkwoods.ca for family law inquiries and assistance.