If you ever want to see a party go from a group of happy people chatting amongst themselves, to a WWF fight in five minutes, ask someone loudly about their thoughts on vaccinations. The decision to vaccinate (or not vaccinate) your children is a very controversial topic here in Michigan. From St John’s and Portland, to Jackson and Howell, people have very strong opinions on both sides of the fence. Whether you discuss the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna Vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s amazing how quickly the subject can lead to anger and fighting. So it’s easy to see why vaccinations could cause a great deal of strife between co-parents who don’t see eye-to-eye on the topic.
Can children be vaccinated against COVID 19 in Michigan?
As of right now, the vaccines developed to immunize people against Covid19 (by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) are only approved for use in people aged 16 and older. So while it is possible to vaccinate your children against Coronavirus, for now, you can only do so if your kids are 16-years-old or older. There is currently testing underway to see if the immunizations are safe and effective for use in younger children, but those trials haven’t been completed yet and that data isn’t available. So until then, it’s not a topic anyone has to make a decision on. (Thank goodness for one less thing to argue about with your ex right now!)
What if your kids are old enough and you don’t agree on getting the COVID vaccine?
The Covid19 vaccine is only the most recent incarnation of the vaccine fight, but the issue of whether or not to vaccinate children has been a fight between divorced parents in Michigan for years. Of course it isn’t only divorced parents that argue about it. Intact families have differing opinions too. So what happens if you and the other parent don’t agree on the issue of vaccines? Who gets to make the final decision? Let’s start with the issue of custody. A parent who has sole physical custody, but not sole legal custody, can’t make a decision on their own regarding major aspects of their child’s medical care. That’s only possible if one parent has sole legal custody of that child as well.
So who gets to make the decision if the parents don’t agree?
According to Michigan’s custody laws, when two divorced parents who share legal custody of a child or children can’t agree on an issue, it falls to the court to decide what the outcome of that issue will be. In that case, a “Lombardo hearing” is held, during which time the parents present their cases to a judge for resolution, and the judge decides what they think is in the child’s best interests. Once a judge has ruled on the issue, the parents are required to follow through with whatever the court’s decision is, even if they don’t like it. Not following a judge’s orders can get you into a lot of trouble with the court! Having a stranger in a black robe making health decisions for your child is not very appealing. That’s why parents are always encouraged to figure out these things without need for a judge.
Is a judge likely to rule in favor of a child being vaccinated?
We can’t answer that. Not because we don’t want to, but simply because every judge is different, and there are many factors that impact a their final choice. For example, they’ll consider each parent’s argument for or against vaccinations, so the information presented by the parents plays a role as well. They’ll also consider factors like who has primary physical custody of the child, also the child’s best interest, and whether or not there’s an established custodial environment (which simply means where the child typically turns for love, affection, guidance and discipline over a significant period of time.)
I want sole legal custody so I can make medical decisions without the other parent’s input.
If you are considering asking the court to modify your custody agreement, you have an uphill battle already. Michigan law intentionally sets a big hurdle for parents that want to change custody of a child. You’re going to need help from skilled and experienced family law attorneys. Modifying child custody agreements requires convincing a judge that the change is warranted, and that’s not easy. So if you are considering asking the court to change your current custody or parenting time agreement, or asking for permission to vaccinate your kid against the wishes of th e other parent, call 517 886 1000 today and set up your free initial Zoom or phone consultation. Here at The Kronzek Firm we’ve helped countless parents from Lansing, Charlotte, Stanton, and everywhere else in mid-Michigan to deal with all of their custody and parenting time concerns. We can help you too.