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What Happens if You and Your Ex Disagree About COVID-19 Vaccines for the Kids?


Every parent would likely agree after the last few months that the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful for children just like it is for many adults. And if you are sharing children with a former spouse after a separation or divorce, the last thing you want to do is add to the stressful feelings your little ones are probably already experiencing by fighting with their other parent. This may be easier said than done, however, as 2020 continues to present a range of new challenges that co-parents have to contend with. The latest of these is the recent speculation surrounding the upcoming availability of a COVID-19 vaccination in the scope of a world where vaccination is a hot-button issue and one parent may be strongly for vaccines while the other may be adamantly against them. This has given rise to a new and largely unanswered question – how courts will handle it when parents disagree about whether their children should receive a COVID-19 vaccine once one is released.

The Recent Case Hinting at One Possible Solution

As the virus has continued to spread across the globe, there have already been disputes involving one parent who is concerned that the other parent is not taking appropriate measures to avoid being exposed to COVID-19. Now, a dispute has already arisen regarding which parent will get to decide whether their child should be vaccinated whenever a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. In a recent case called Tarkowski v. Lemieux, the Ontario Court of Justice considered this among the issues the parents in that case disagreed over. The mother in that case, who the shared child lived with most of the time, had previously taken long periods of time to vaccinate their daughter and only did so after previous legal intervention. Ultimately, the court in the present case split the decision-making authority between the separated parents. While the mother will have the initial option to vaccinate their daughter, the court gave the father the ultimate authority to make decisions on the child’s COVID-19 vaccination and other vaccines that are recommended by her doctor and refused by the mother.

Planning in Advance for How to Handle the COVID-19 Vaccine

When parents can agree on consistent rules between households and keep conflict to a minimum, this can only help their children feel as secure as possible when moving between households. Therefore, you should attempt to reach common ground if you disagree with your co-parent about vaccines. Keep the following in mind:

  • Start by sitting down and really listening to what he or she has to say
  • Meet in a neutral location without your children present
  • Try to reach a mutually beneficial understanding
  • If you agree on new arrangements, record these in writing and forward a copy to your ex to ensure you both understand what changes you have agreed to
  • If you can’t agree, consider co-parenting counseling and obtaining legal help

We Can Help You Plan for an Uncertain Future

Due to the complexity of vaccines and the fact that the COVID-19 situation is a novel one, reaching an agreement with your ex will likely require the assistance of a professional family law lawyer. As the Mississauga family lawyers at Zagazeta Garcia LLP, we have the compassion to sympathize with what you are facing and the experience necessary to assist you through the legal complexities of your circumstances and the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic. Reach out to us today to begin with a confidential conversation.





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