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23rd Nov 2021

Covid vaccine debates causing divorced US parents to take each other to court

Laura Grainger

Because co-parenting isn’t stressful enough…

Debates on whether or not to get their children vaccinated are reportedly causing divorced parents in the States to take each other to court.

A family lawyer said there has been a “significant increase” in court cases relating to the Covid jab between divorced parents, with one parent wanting their child to receive the jab and another against it.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave an emergency authorisation of the Pfizer jab against the virus for kids ages 5-11 on October 29.

The jab was approved for children aged 12-17 earlier this year.

This has for some become another source of contention when it comes to co-parenting.

Family lawyer Hillary Moonay told Today that it is also leading to further division when it comes to vaccinating kids against other diseases.

“Disputes are creeping into flu vaccine concerns as well,” she said. “I believe this is primarily because parents who do not want their child to get the COVID-19 vaccine believe it helps their position if they now claim they do not want their child to get the flu vaccine either.”

The lawyer revealed that her law firm receives calls about Covid-related family disputes on a weekly basis.

“Prior to the pandemic, custody-related vaccine issues were rare,” she said. “I probably had a total of two or three over the course of my 25-year career before now.”

Yet now, courtrooms are having to mediate between former couples as they disagree on a particularly polarising issue regarding children’s health.

“Most commonly, judges are not deciding whether a child should receive the vaccine but, instead, awarding one parent sole legal custody to make that decision,” Moonay continued.

“Judges are primarily relying upon the recommendations of the children’s pediatrician or family doctor to reach a decision. Additionally, judges are considering whether a child has had other childhood vaccines without the objection of either parent.”

The political division over the virus itself and the jabs to fight it isn’t helping already tense relationships between co-parenting exes, a marriage and family therapist explained.

“Really nobody has experienced something like this before. It has been an extremely stressful and life-changing time,” Dr. Amanda Craig, PhD, LMFT, told the news outlet.

“Then you add in the current political climate and a choice parents have to make with a person who they probably have a contentious relationship with, and it’s a perfect storm that turns a little ole vaccine into a massive decision point.”

A mum-of-three who didn’t have an amicable divorce supported this, claiming the jab has only added fuel to the fire when it comes to co-parenting with her ex-husband.

“He doesn’t like giving me child support,” she said. “He doesn’t like the way I parent. He disagrees with me and my wife and how we’re raising them.

“He thinks Covid was just a way to get President Joe Biden elected. He believes my wife and I are only vaccinated or wear masks because we’re Democrats instead of Republicans.”

This mum, however, has sole medical decision-making power over their kids, aged 9, 8, and 5.

She shared that while she considered her ex-husband’s wishes, their children will ultimately be getting jabbed – with the kids themselves making the final call.

“He’s bothered that he doesn’t have any say over it,” she said. “But we told the kids it’s up to them and they said they want the vaccine, so they’re going to get it.”