It’s official, COVID vaccines are now available for all children over the age of 6 months. You absolutely want to get your children vaccinated – you trust the scientists who created it and want your kids protected. You and your ex have nimbly navigated all that COVID has thrown your way. You both agreed on virtual school, had similar protocols about quarantining – you figured getting the kids vaccinated would be a no brainer for you both. So, you call your ex, tell him your plan, and he says “Absolutely not! Who knows what’s in it. COVID isn’t as bad in kids, the vaccine is riskier for them than the virus!” He has some good points, but you disagree.
You and your ex have been separated for a few years now. It wasn’t “amicable” by any means, but you eventually came to an agreement to share equal time with the kids and make decisions for the kids together. You worked with attorneys and had a Consent Order drawn up that has been signed by a judge and filed with the Court – it gives you both “joint legal custody.” Joint legal custody means that you and your ex can’t make a major decision about your children without being in agreement. A major decision includes medical decisions, like whether or not to get your children vaccinated for COVID. So, now that you aren’t in agreement, what do you do?
Most Consent Orders with joint legal custody have tie-breaking provisions. These tie-breaking provisions typically include using a mediator to help the two of you work through the disagreement and come to a resolution. Another tie-breaking option is using an arbitrator (a lawyer who is appointed to act as your judge) who will listen to both of your positions and make a decision that will become a Court Order.
What if your Consent Order doesn’t have a tie-breaker provision? Or you don’t have an arbitration provision and you can’t come to an agreement at mediation? At that point, it’s likely best that you re-engage your lawyer and request help from the judge. Keep in mind that it could take months to go before a judge and plead your case, and you may not like what the judge has to say.
What if you just got the kids vaccinated even though your ex doesn’t agree? Would it really be that bad? Yes, actually, it could be very bad! Your ex could ask the Judge to hold you in contempt of your Consent Order, which could lead to payment of a fine, payment of his attorneys fees, or even incarceration.
If you find yourself in a debate over whether or not to get your kids vaccinated, or to make any decision for your kids, with their other parent, the best first step is to reach out to your lawyer to ask for advice and assistance. The family lawyers at Marcellino & Tyson, PLLC can absolutely help you through this and many other custody issues. Give our office a call at 704-919-1519 and let us walk you through just how we can help!
Written by Attorney Jennifer Moore