When Co-Parents Disagree on Covid Vaccine

Steps To Take When Co-Parents Disagree

When Co-Parents Disagree on COVID Vaccine

With the Ontario government’s aggressive rollout program to administer covid-19 vaccines to every Ontario resident ages 12 years and older, co-parents are faced with an interesting family law issue when it comes to vaccinating their children against covid-19.

Decision-making authority in family law can be granted on a sole, split or joint basis.

  1. Sole Decision-Making Responsibility: In this case, one parent is responsible for all the decisions regarding the child(ren)’s healthcare, religion and education.
  2. Split Decision-Making Responsibility: In this case, each parent is designated specific areas in which they have decision-making authority. For instance, one parent may make all decisions regarding healthcare and religion, while the other makes all decisions regarding religion and education.
  3. Joint Decision-Making Responsibility: As the term suggests, Parents are responsible for making all important decisions for their child together. Neither parent can make decisions about their child without the other parent’s consent.
Steps To Take When Co-Parents Disagree

Steps To Take When Co-Parents Disagree

When one parent has sole decision-making responsibility for their child(ren), they can choose to vaccinate their child against covid-19 and do not have an obligation to seek the other parent’s consent.

Since neither parent has the authority to take their child(ren) to get vaccinated without the other party’s consent in a joint decision-making scenario, on a major decision that has to be made for their child(ren), the following steps must be taken if the parents cannot agree on whether to vaccinate their child or not:

Steps To Take When Co-Parents Disagree:

  1. Follow your court order/parenting agreement: If you and your co-parent have a court order or parenting agreement that has terms with respect to dispute resolution, you need to make sure you follow the court order or agreement.
  2. Negotiate: First and foremost, you should try to discuss the issue of vaccination with your co-parent and list out the reasons you do/do not want your child to be vaccinated. Then, try to come to an agreement with your co-parent. If you cannot negotiate on your own, you can seek legal counsel to help you negotiate this issue.
  3. Mediate: Try to mediate the issue with the assistance of an experienced mediator who can help you to understand each party’s perspective and come to an agreement.
  4. Litigate: If all of the above steps have failed, you will have no choice but to bring the issue to court to be decided by a judge based on the best interests of the child(ren).

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How Does A Judge Decide?

In this type of matter, the court will generally rely on Health Canada’s guidelines and weigh heavily on what is in the child’s best interest, taking both parents’ concerns into account. If for example, the child has any underlying health concerns that could potentially be affected by the vaccine, the court would take this into account in making the final determination.

The judge will be tasked with hearing very fact-specific information and making the best decision possible for the child.

If you find yourself at odds with your co-parent when it comes to vaccinating your children against covid-19, our family lawyers at Hummingbird Lawyers LLP are here to assist you.

We understand the challenges that arise with family disputes, and we take a compassionate, yet professional approach to helping you through this process. Contact our team and let us help you.

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Adina is an Associate Lawyer working in Hummingbird LLP’s Family Law Department.

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