Post-Pandemic Custody Vaccination Disputes Remain a Hot Topic

January 25, 2023 | By Hillary J. Moonay

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, many parents – especially those divorced or separated – found themselves disagreeing about whether their child should receive the Covid vaccine. Parents’ opinions regarding the vaccine are so intense that for the first time in over 25 years, I found myself in custody court litigating the vaccination issue on numerous occasions and have written extensively about it. Today, while the Covid vaccine issue has settled down, we are seeing a whole new area ripe for dispute between parents:  childhood vaccines.

Recently, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a drop in vaccination rates for incoming kindergarteners across the country. Except for medical exemptions and religious waivers, all 50 states require children to be vaccinated against certain diseases before starting school. Currently, the United States is falling below the 95% threshold recommended for herd immunity of vaccinated incoming school students which may leave kids susceptible to childhood diseases.

Decreasing vaccination rates for children appear to be following a trend stemming from lower rates of vaccination during the pandemic. Public health officials are becoming increasingly concerned that if this downward vaccination movement continues, we will see more cases of preventable childhood diseases such as measles and polio. There have been outbreaks of both diseases in neighboring states over the last year.

So, if you and your child’s other parent disagree about giving your child any vaccines, what steps should you take?

  1. Have a discussion with the other parent to understand his or her reasoning for not wanting your child to receive the vaccine. Perhaps it’s just a timing issue and you can compromise as to when the child will receive certain vaccines or agree that the child won’t receive more than a certain number of vaccines at the same time. 

  2. If, after such a conversation, you are still unable to agree, suggest a meeting with the child’s pediatrician.  As a medical professional, the doctor will be able to give the pros and cons about each vaccine as well as a recommendation specific to your child. 

  3. After taking those steps, if there is still no consensus, a court might need to intervene to determine which parent shall have medical decision-making authority with regard to these vaccines. 

If you have questions about decision-making regarding vaccinations as part of your custody case, reach out to an Obermayer attorney for additional information.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal or medical advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel or medical consultation, and should not be relied on as such.

About the Authors

Hillary J. Moonay


Doylestown Divorce Attorney Hillary co-chairs Obermayer’s Family Law Group. She focuses her practice exclusively in the area of family law, where she handles all phases of the negotiation and litigation of domestic...

Read More by Author