From stay-at-home orders and virtual schooling to vaccines and mask mandates, co-parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredible challenge for many parents. Just when the medical community began to see infection rates start to fall among children, the Delta variant surged throughout the summer of 2021 and sent more children to the hospital than other previous variants. This escalating situation made co-parenting decisions concerning the health and well-being of children even more contentious — and with potentially even higher stakes.
After the FDA approved a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-17, co-parents faced an additional issue of whether to get their middle school- and high school-aged children vaccinated. Now, most recently, as Pfizer and Biotech have begun the FDA approval process for a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, even more co-parents will soon also be facing the decision on whether to vaccine their elementary school-aged children.
What can co-parents who disagree on important health issues do?
First, you must know your legal custody rights. Many co-parenting arrangements provide that co-parents share 50/50 legal custody, which means that each parent retains an equal say in decisions concerning major issues such as education, religion, and medical treatment.
Depending on how your situation has already gone concerning other COVID-related issues, you may have some indication on how important future decisions may be handled. If you anticipate further issues as the Delta variant continues to surge, keep in mind that you do have some options on how to handle disputes concerning COVID-19 precautions:
- Mediation: You may choose to pursue mediation by a neutral third party.
- Court intervention: If mediation doesn't resolve the issue to one of the co-parent's liking, that party may seek to involve the court, which will come to a legally binding decision.
No matter which avenue you choose to pursue, experienced legal representation can help ensure that your child's best interests remain at the center of any discussion or proceeding. If you have questions or concerns about co-parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the Delta variant continues to surge, please contact us at Jerkins Family Law today.