With COVID-19 vaccines gaining approval for children 12 and over, divorce attorneys all over the country are beginning to see disputes between ex-spouses about getting their children vaccinated, according to a recent report by the Chicago Sun-Times.
“This is something we’ve been seeing increasingly over the last few months,” said Stephanie Tang, an attorney and vice-chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Family Law section council.
She has represented parents on both sides of the issue and said even before the pandemic, divorced parents argued over getting vaccinations for their children.
How FDA approval is impacting parents
Parents are under more pressure to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 than ever before. School has started, and restrictions are being tightened at many public places like restaurants and entertainment venues. Adding to the stress is the recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration to give final approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 and over, replacing its “emergency use” status and putting it on par with other marketed vaccines.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the country, approved a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students 12 and older. According to CBS News, the mandate is one of the most aggressive measures taken by any school district to protect children.
Chicago Public Schools and several other school districts already require employees to be vaccinated. The Illinois Department of Public Health says there is no requirement for students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time, but the IDPH also says vaccination is "the key to ending this pandemic."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 12 and older be vaccinated against COVID-19, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it for all people without contraindications who are 12 and older. The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for school plans should start with the goal of keeping students safe and physically present in school.
What is a GAL?
Some parents share responsibility for their children's medical decisions, while others have the sole responsibility to make those choices on their own. Most parenting agreements have a provision in place to try mediation first in the event of a dispute. If mediation doesn’t work, the issue typically ends up in court. Once in court, a judge will often appoint an independent party, known as a guardian ad litem (GAL).
A GAL can:
- Interview both parents and the child
- Review files and records
- Talk to teachers, family members, medical professionals, and friends of the child
- Consider whether the child is immunocompromised, has siblings, is going to school in-person, or is participating in extracurricular activities
- Take part in court proceedings on behalf of the child
Legal help is available
Co-parenting can be hard when you're divorced, but what if you and your former spouse can’t agree on medical decisions involving your children? This can have an impact on your child’s schooling, medical needs, and religious upbringing, which is why things can quickly turn emotional and contentious between parents.
After a divorce, you and your former spouse are no longer married—but you still have a child to raise, and it’s important to be on the same page when making decisions about them. The experienced divorce attorneys at Courtney Clark Law P.C. in Belleville know how to help.
To see what we can do for you, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.