Vaccinations save lives, but there’s been a steadily rising concern about the safety of certain vaccines — especially for children.
Disputes over whether a child should be vaccinated against a variety of diseases can fracture even a normally harmonious parental relationship. When the parents are divorced, however, the dispute can reach epic proportions and lead to legal battles over custody and control of the children.
Which parent is putting the child at risk?
Every child custody case is decided according to the “best interests of the child.” The court is obligated to protect the child’s wellbeing and safety above all.
Unfortunately, both the parent who wants to vaccinate and the parent who opposes it are likely to see each other as reckless and willing to take unnecessary risks with their child’s health. Both will likely come armed with their own data and talking points about the subject and maintain that they alone have their child’s best interests at heart.
What does the law say?
In North Carolina, children are required to receive certain vaccinations to attend school. There are only two possible exceptions to the rules:
- Religious: The parents have deeply-held beliefs that forbid vaccinations.
- Medical: The child has a medical condition that makes getting the vaccination riskier than not getting it.
If one parent is alleging that one of these exceptions is met, you can generally bet that the court will ask for evidence to back up their statements.
A parent who has recently adopted a religion that forbids vaccinations, for example, may have a hard time convincing the court that their beliefs should override the other parent’s beliefs. A medical exemption would have to be backed by a licensed physician’s statement, at minimum.
Whatever side of the issue you’re on, a vaccination dispute is a complex problem that many modern parents face. Speak to an experienced family law attorney right away about the issue to learn more about your rights.