Vaccination has become a hot topic amongst parents who are involved in a divorce or child custody dispute. If one parent believes in vaccination and one parent does not, the decision to vaccinate your child may not be your decision to make.

While one parent may have primary or sole physical custody, most parents enjoy having joint legal custody of their child(ren). Legal custody in Pennsylvania is the right to make important decisions regarding your child(ren)’s religious, medical and educational issues. (Conversely, physical custody in Pennsylvania involves where a child will physically reside).

If you are a parent who does not wish to vaccinate your child, you likely know that you can file a vaccine exemption form with your child’s school based upon medical, religious or philosophical objections.

If, on the other hand, you are a parent that wishes to vaccinate your child, but you share legal custody with your child’s other parent, you may need to seek court intervention to help resolve this dispute. Court’s in Pennsylvania decide legal custody disputes based upon what is in the best interests of the child(ren). Court’s will look to more than a parent’s personal feelings and opinions in deciding a vaccination dispute.  Regardless of what side of the fence you are on with regard to the vaccination issue, you will likely need medical expert to testify to support your position. Your attorney can help you determine what witnesses meet the legal criteria to be considered an “expert” witness in your case.


Whitelaw, Bob Robert I Whitelaw has extensive experience in a wide variety of issues relating to marriage and family law, including division of property, alimony, tax matters, child custody, visitation and support, prenuptial agreements, adoption and paternity and same-sex divorce and custody matters. He was selected by Best Lawyers in America and was named as one of Pennsylvania’s Top 100 Lawyers and Philadelphia’s Top 100 Lawyers by Super Lawyers®, 2010 Family Lawyer of the Year Law and a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Mr. Whitelaw works out of Obermayer’s Philadelphia, PA office and he can be reached 215-665-3206 or at Robert.Whitelaw@obermayer.com.

Weiner, MMaris J. Weiner concentrates her practice in the area of family law where she handles all phases of negotiation and litigation of domestic relations cases, including divorce, custody, support, equitable distribution, adoption, and prenuptial agreements. Her office resides in the firm’s Philadelphia, PA office. She can be reached at 215-665-3103 or at Maris.Weiner@obermayer.com.