Vaccines and Joint Custody

Parents only want what is best for their children.  When parents are still a couple, they work hard to present a united front and evenly pull the yoke of parental responsibilities.  However, when a relationship breaks down and the parents divorce or separate, they will need to adjust their parenting techniques to co-parent while living apart.  Optimally, the parents will be able to come to an agreement on the major issues and co-parent with a minimum of friction.  There are some major decisions that can become a major road block for the parents, including vaccines.

In the vast majority of cases, parents will be granted joint legal custody.  Legal custody means that the parents need to collaborate and discuss major decisions, such as education, religion, and medical care.  Vaccines clearly fall under this umbrella.  Joint legal custody means that neither parent has “veto” power over the other, and if they happen to disagree about one of these major decisions, they will need to return to court.  This is true with vaccines.  If, for example, you want to vaccinate your children according to the schedule recommended by the children’s pediatrician, but your former spouse or partner is staunchly against vaccinating, you will need to return to court to seek a specific order allowing you to vaccinate the children despite the objection of the other parent.  In those cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the child.  This is a person who represents the child, and it will be that person’s responsibility to make a recommendation to the judge about what is in the child’s best interest.  The ad litem will likely speak with both parents and the child’s pediatrician before making a decision about a recommendation.

There is no federal law requiring that all children be vaccinated.  New Jersey law does not allow for personal exemptions.  New Jersey statute 8:57-4 requires all children from preschool through grade twelve to present proof of up to date vaccinations.  A parent may present a medical exemption or religious exemption letter to a school administrator to opt out of vaccines.  It should be noted, however, that private schools are not required to accept these exemptions.

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Medical decision making is an important issue in custody cases, and we have extensive experience helping our clients understand their rights and responsibilities.  Call today for a consultation.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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