July 12, 2021 – Now that COVID-19 vaccines are available for children 12 and older, some divorced parents face a challenge: what to do when a parent wants children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and other parent not.
This is the situation of Michelle Roy-Augustin *, a divorced mother of two sons aged 12 and 10, who lives in Los Angeles. While his ex-wife wants their 12-year-old son to get the vaccine right away, Roy-Augustin prefers to wait because some teenagers, albeit rarely, have had heart inflammation after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the report. CDC.
“I would rather wait until there is a larger sample of children receiving the vaccine to see if there are other problems,” says Roy-Augustin. She says she and her ex-wife are vaccinated and the two have never disagreed about other vaccines their sons received throughout their childhood.
“This is the first time we have disagreed on something like this. We’ve been remarkably on the same page with most of our co-parenting decisions – so far. “
Ask divorce attorneys, and they’ll tell you that they’ve recently argued many ex-spouse vaccination issues. But the law is clear: Generally speaking, if the parents are not divorced or living under an ordinance, either parent can give consent for a child to be vaccinated. says Jennifer S. Hargrave, a divorce lawyer at Hargrave Family Law in Dallas.
“However, once the parents separate and live under a parenting order [such as a divorce decree], the order will determine which parent has the right to decide on a child’s medical care, including “invasive medical procedures” such as vaccines, because these puncture the skin, “she said.
According to the agreement, the right to consent to this type of procedure requires the consent of both parents. In other words, if one parent disagrees, then the other parent can prevent the child from getting the vaccine, Hargrave says.
“The other parent can ask the court to use their judgment to intervene and determine whether the child should be vaccinated,” she said.
For Roy-Augustin, the vaccine negotiation or not with his ex-spouse remains ongoing – and stressful.
“I’m texting my ex about the side effects of the vaccine, but I doubt she’ll read them,” she says. “My ex is operating in a state of constant health anxiety. I think she assumes that the schools will impose the vaccine and then I will have no choice. “
Until COVID-19 vaccine becomes mandatory – if that happens, meaning neither parent should unilaterally approve one child’s vaccine without the other’s consent, says Chantelle A. Porter, family lawyer with A. Traub & Associates in Lombard, IL.
“It’s best to let the other parent know if you are solely responsible for the decision-making or get the consent of your ex-spouse if you have the joint decision-making,” she says.
If you still can’t come to a resolution and are staying in two separate vaccination camps, with neither party even close to a dealership, you might consider sitting down with your child’s pediatrician or a mediator. .
“I think it helps both parents sit down and have a conversation with an expert about the pros and cons of the vaccine,” Porter said. “It’s also a neutral place where you can voice all your concerns. “
As for Roy-Augustin, she hopes to decide by the fall.
“We now have millions of children receiving their second injection,” she said. “If there are no problems by October, then I’ll think about it – but maybe the J&J and not two injections?”
Three Ways to Close the COVID-19 Vaccine Gap
If you and your spouse just can’t decide whether or not to get your child vaccinated against COVID-19, you should find a way to discuss it maturely, because this problem isn’t going to go away overnight, says Elizabeth Cohen, PhD, clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City and author of Light on the other side of divorce.
Below, Cohen, also self-proclaimed “Divorce Doctor,” suggests three ways to better communicate about this:
1: separate your feelings for your ex from your co-parenting responsibilities
In fact, your goal should be to completely rethink the way you talk to your ex, says Cohen. “Ask yourself, ‘If I was negotiating with a business partner, how would I approach this situation? »», She suggests. “Yes, your ex is someone you’ve probably had a long history of not feeling heard from. And, yes, it plays into your conversations with your ex, but you have to put those feelings aside to resolve this issue.
2: stay factual
Avoid saying things like “You always care” or “You never cared about children’s medical affairs before, why do you care now?” “, Suggests Cohen.
“Instead, make it very clear why you think this is the right decision,” she says. “Again, explain it as if you were speaking to a neutral person and remove all emotional language from the discussion.”
3: respect your ex’s point of view
It can be very difficult, but it’s very important to respect the other person’s opinion, Cohen says.
“Remember, your ex is just as sensitive to this as you are,” she says. “Ask him to explain how he made his decision. Remember: your underlying anger and resentment towards this person has nothing to do with whether or not your child should be vaccinated. “
* Name has been changed for confidentiality reasons
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