You and the opposing party have figured out custody regarding your child and then realize you disagree on whether or not to vaccinate your child against COVID-19. There are several ways, in the State of North Carolina, to resolve vaccination disagreements. However, it’s important to remember that the judge must always make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.
The most efficient way to have the courts resolve these disagreements is to obtain sole legal custody of the child. Custody is broken into two different concepts in the State of North Carolina, legal custody and physical custody. Legal Custody refers to the important decisions a parent must make regarding the child. These decisions include health care, education, and major decisions affecting the child’s welfare. If you obtain sole legal custody, that means you have the final decision-making power regarding how the child is raised. Joint legal custody means you have a voice with the child’s other parent to determine how your child is raised. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the actual location where your child resides.
If you share joint physical custody of your child with the other parent and cannot come to an agreement regarding the vaccination of your child against COVID-19, there are three different options available to you. The first is to go to the judge. This could potentially require input from the child’s healthcare provider and the judge will have to determine what decision meets the best interest of the child standard. A second option is to attempt mediation over the issue. Mediation allows for a 3rd party, the mediator, the help parties find a middle ground on the issue in order to bring about a compromise. The third option is arbitration. Arbitration is conducted just like court but it is a private hearing before an experienced, qualified family law attorney that serves the same role as a judge and hears both sides’ case and reaches a final decision. Arbitration has its pros and cons. It is the quickest option usually, but you and the other parent will be responsible for paying the arbitration costs.
It is also important to note that the age of your child may play a role in the judge’s decision-making. For example, if your child is in his or her mid-to-late teenage years, the judge may ask the child about his or her opinion on vaccinations and may take the child’s answer into account. A typical rule of thumb is the older the child, the more weight the judge will give the child’s opinion.
Vaccinations, like some other areas of parenting, may be an area where you feel like you just cannot compromise for the welfare and health of your child. It could rise to a situation where you must draw a line in the sand and stand up for your child’s health rights.
Depending on the custody status of your child, there are several paths to a solution regarding vaccinating your child against COVID-19. There are various rights and options that could potentially be at your disposal. However, you should contact a family law attorney who can advocate for your parental rights in court and protect your child. If you and the other parent cannot agree on vaccinations, or you have concerns about your child’s custody order and how it pertains to vaccinations, contact the experienced attorneys at Hatcher Law Group to help you navigate through these complicated decisions.
Contact Hatcher Law Group to consult with an experienced family law attorney to understand your rights and options moving forward.