2 MIN READ | Relationship

Ellen Diamond

No Clear-Cut Laws in Place for Custody Vaccine Debate

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Ellen Diamond, (2022, April 1). No Clear-Cut Laws in Place for Custody Vaccine Debate. Psychreg on Relationship. https://www.psychreg.org/no-clear-cut-laws-place-custody-vaccine-debate/
Reading Time: 2 minutes

There has been ongoing concern about a parent sending a child to visit an ex-partner that smokes. In some divorce cases, a parent that smokes in the home may be denied visitation rights or be asked to stop smoking inside for a couple of days before the visit with the child takes place. Judges have made rulings like this in the past based on the evidence provided about secondhand smoke and the health risks associated with it.

The same type of debate is becoming increasingly common, with one divorcing parent getting vaccinated and the other refusing to do so. Some lawyers argue that the parent who decided not to get vaccinated is more likely to get infected with Covid, which poses a higher risk to the child of developing the virus.

In Chicago, a judge made a final ruling recently that a divorced mother would not be able to visit with her 11-year-old son until she had received a Covid vaccination. Instead, the boy would remain with his father, vaccinated until the mother got her shot. The judge later rescinded the court order, and he ended up recusing himself from this case.

At this point, there is no clear-cut answer regarding the power that a judge has to deny visitation rights or custody to parents that are not vaccinated. A divorce attorney with an unvaccinated parent as a client may argue that the court has the right to make a medical decision for a child but not for a parent. 

The divorce lawyer representing the parent who is vaccinated and wants to stop visitation rights or custody can present an argument that the unvaccinated parent poses a risk to the child. In this instance, that would make the vaccination status of the parent relevant.

It’s a debate without any clear-cut answers at this point, and many divorced and divorcing parents are struggling to come to terms with the financial issues involved with keeping up the fight. Cases like this could likely take months or even years to resolve if they have to make their way up to the Supreme Court.

The cases become even more complex when one parent has a disability that warrants an exemption from getting the vaccine. In this scenario, the argument becomes much more complicated since many disabilities may not be used as a sole reason why the parent wouldn’t be a suitable caregiver to the child.

There is also a question of whether or not an unvaccinated parent exposes the child in question to harm. But, again, both sides can vehemently argue this debate until it reaches the Supreme Court for a final decision.

When one parent is dealing with another parent that is not getting vaccinated, many questions arise the best divorce lawyers Bay Area can best answer that.


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.


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