Parents have to make a lot of tough choices for their kids – and that includes, at times, important medical decisions.
That can be hard enough, but what happens if the parents are no longer together and they can’t seem to reach an agreement over an issue like vaccinations. Some parents believe that they’re very important for their kids to have, while others are equally convinced that they’re very dangerous.
So, who gets to make the call? You may need to look to your custody agreement – and the court – for an answer. Here’s what you need to know:
Connecticut has a presumption of shared legal custody
Regardless of who has the most actual physical custody of your child, you and your co-parent likely share joint legal custody – which is the power to make important choices on your child’s behalf. This includes any medical procedures, like vaccinations.
Connecticut law presumes that both parents should be involved in these kinds of decisions, si joint legal custody is the “default” in most custody plans. However, it’s important to read your custody orders carefully, because they may have a provision that requires you and your co-parent to follow recommendations from your child’s pediatrician or specialist, and that could factor into your situation.
In some cases, you may find medical providers unwilling to proceed with a child’s treatment or vaccines without your co-parent’s consent or a court order giving one parent sole authority over such decisions. If that happens and you really cannot come to a meeting of the minds with your co-parent, you may need to go back to court. If you try to do an end-run around your co-parent in violation of the existing court order, you could be held in contempt and that could threaten your custody rights – so proceed cautiously.
Even parents who are married can disagree on issues surrounding the kids, but there’s even more potential for trouble when the parents are no longer a couple. If you have a major custody dispute with your co-parent, it’s generally wisest to find out more about your legal options.