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What Happens When Divorced Oklahomans Disagree on the COVID-19 Vaccine For Kids

Posted by Amy Hayes | Jan 11, 2022 | 0 Comments

The FDA has approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 and up, but some divorced parents in Oklahoma still fiercely disagree on when and whether their kids should take it. How to resolve the issue when one parent wants the kids to have the vaccine immediately, and the other wants to wait–or doesn't want them to take it at all?

Joint Legal Custody

These days, most parents have joint legal custody of their children. When parents share legal custody, the court has given them equal authority for making major medical decisions for the children, including whether to vaccinate them.

If there's a disagreement over the issue, the parent wanting to vaccinate the kids does not have legal authorization to make the unilateral decision to vaccinate and could get in serious trouble for violating a court order if they have it done without their co-parent's permission.

How to Reach an Agreement

Parents should try to work together to reach a satisfactory agreement before turning to the court. In Oklahoma, judge's really do not want to make a decision on the vaccine itself, they are more concerned about helping determine who has the right to make that type of decision. 

Overall, you have three basic options:

  1. Speak to the child's pediatrician. It may help to speak to a pediatrician or another medical professional that you both trust to obtain expert advice. Hearing a professional explain the benefits and risks of the vaccine might allow you to reach an accord.
  2. Turn to the courts. A judge will weigh the facts of the case and hear the testimony of both parents and the child if they're considered mature enough. The court will then make a decision based on the child's best interest.
  3. Seek the advice of a mediator. A skilled mediator might help you find an acceptable compromise, such as agreeing to vaccinate at a certain age or allowing an older child to decide for themselves.

Sole Legal Custody

If one parent has sole legal custody, the circumstances are a bit different. A parent with sole legal custody has unilateral power to authorize vaccination or refuse to vaccinate the child. This legal authority does not mean the other parent is powerless, however.

The parent without legal custody may request to modify the child custody agreement based on a “substantial change in circumstances.”

In Oklahoma, the change in circumstances can be any change that affects the child. The non-custodial parent could argue that the global coronavirus pandemic and the custodial parent's approach to vaccines constitutes a change of circumstance that would warrant a modification to the order. Again, the court would listen to both perspectives and decide in the child's best interest.

If you and your ex disagree about having your child vaccinated for COVID-19 in Oklahoma and don't currently have an attorney, please call Hayes Legal Solutions, PLLC  at 405-635-5578 or contact me online

About the Author

Amy Hayes

Hayes Legal Solutions, PLLC is owned by Amy Hayes, she is also known by some as Amy Hayes-Thompson. She has been licensed to practice law in Oklahoma since 2003. Amy started Hayes Legal Solutions to make legal services more accessible and affordable to Oklahomans. Family Law, LGBTQ Family Law, Real Estate Law, Oil &Gas Law, Small Business Contracts, and Renewable Energy Law are her primary practice areas.


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