Legal Representation With Personal Advocacy

Co-parenting: Who decides about vaccines?

You have a child and you are not married to the child’s other parent. Perhaps you never were. Perhaps you got divorced. Either way, you know that you now need to work together as co-parents, even if you’re not involved with one another on any other level.

There are a lot of questions to ask, and one that you find yourself thinking about often is who gets to make decisions about vaccines. Young children are slated to get a number of them during their first years of life, and you may also be considering getting your child a flu shot every year from here on out.

But what if you and the other parent do not agree? Say you are all for getting the child as many vaccines as needed, but your ex says they really don’t need any. Who gets to make the final call?

Who has legal custody?

The real question here is just who has legal custody of your child. There are two types of custody: legal and physical. If you have physical custody, you get to care for your child alone. If you have legal custody, you get to make decisions — including medical decisions — for the child.

Courts will often just divide custody equally on both levels, allowing each parent to make decisions and physically care for the child, but they don’t have to. If the court allowed you both to have physical custody but gave your ex legal custody — and not you — then your ex gets to make that decision. If you have legal custody and your ex does not, the choice falls to you.

You may not agree

So, what if you and your ex share custody, but you still can’t agree? You cannot do anything to violate your ex’s rights by going against their wishes, and neither can they. However, this is a situation that must be resolved one way or another; there is no compromise. The court may have to decide for you, and then you need to know about all of your legal options.