The minimum age for getting vaccinating children against COVID-19 is now as low as 6 months of age. While some parents have a firm stance when it comes to getting the vaccine for their children, others are struggling to come to an agreement. These disagreements are creating additional problems for parents in already strained relationships, such as divorced or separated parents. But what happens when parents disagree on vaccines, and who gets the final say?
Review Your Existing Custody Agreement
Whether you’re the parent who wants your child vaccinated or you’re the parent who doesn’t, the first place you should turn is to your existing custody agreement. In the state of Texas, custody is referred to as a conservatorship. Your rights as a parent depend on the type of conservatorship you have over your child or children. According to the Texas Family Code, there are three types:
- Joint Managing Conservatorship – In this situation, parents share rights and duties equally. This includes medical decisions. Your court order should go a step further and cover if these decisions must be made:
- By Joint Agreement – meaning both parents or conservators must agree on the decision
- Exclusive to One Parent – meaning the identified parent is the sole decision-maker
- Independent to Each Parent – meaning either parent can make a decision without consent from the other
- Sole Managing Conservatorship – In this situation, one parent has exclusive rights to make decisions regarding the child’s medical and dental treatment. In this case, this parent would also have the final say on if the child is vaccinated or not.
- Possessory Conservatorship – In this situation, this parent has visitation rights. Typically, a possessory conservatorship is complimentary to a sole managing conservatorship. That means that one parent has the right to make decisions while the other parent has visitation rights. The possessory conservator doesn’t usually have the ability to make medical decisions regarding the child.
If you’re unsure where you fit in, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney to better understand your current custody agreement. If you and your child’s other parent are going through a custody battle now, then you may want to speak to your child custody attorney about your desired role when it comes to making these important decisions for your child. The Jimenez Law Firm is full of the best family lawyers; they have the skills and experience to answer your questions, so book a consultation today!
What Happens When Joint Managing Conservators Disagree on Vaccines?
A joint managing conservatorship is the most common conservatorship in the state of Texas. This is because the courts tend to prefer that parents have an equal role when it comes to their children’s lives, unless they have a clear reason why they shouldn’t. However, despite best efforts, some parents still struggle to find a common ground in what they feel is in the best interests of their children.
Some court orders grant one parent final authority when it comes to making decisions for their child. However, in many cases, this right is equal between both parents. So, what happens if parents have equal rights to make the decision but can’t reach an agreement?
In some cases, a split decision would default to a designated tiebreaker, such as the child’s pediatrician. However, if the pediatrician does not want to get involved in a custody dispute, then the parents may find themselves in court if they can’t come to an agreement on their own.
In other cases, the custody agreement may require disagreeing parents to seek mediation. Mediation utilizes a neutral third party to help reach an agreement. However, if an agreement can’t be reached, then the next step may be going to court.
What Happens if Your Court Order is Unclear, or You Don’t Have a Legal Agreement?
If your court orders regarding legal custody and medical decision-making for your child aren’t clear, then it’s important you speak with one of the amazing attorneys at the Jimenez Law Firm in Dallas-Fort Worth and Midland-Odessa to get clarification as soon as you can. If changes need to be made to the current agreement, then it could take weeks before any changes occur. In the meantime, your attorney can help you seek an emergency injunction if you wish to stop the other parent from vaccinating the child without your consent.
If you don’t have a legal agreement, then it may be time to get one. Speak with our attorneys to get the ball rolling. The legal agreement will establish both legal and physical custody as well as child support if applicable. However, as you work through this process you may want to speak with your attorney about any immediate options when it comes to vaccinating or not vaccinating your child.