COVID is now part of our daily lives – from what we hear, to what we see, to what we do.  For some families going through the divorce process COVID has become an added source of tension. Arguments about which COVID precautions should be implemented for a child and to what degree, along with whether to have a child vaccinated, have become major sticking points for some couples going through a divorce.   How do families go about resolving these issues?

When there is a disagreement about whether to vaccinate a child, a child’s pediatrician can offer valuable guidance.  They can guide parents as to what is best for a child based upon that child’s individual circumstances and health needs.   If the issue were to be presented to Judge at trial, the Judge would most likely defer to a medical expert, as would occur with any other health issue.

As far as precautions are concerned (masking, hand washing, social distancing, etc.), it is common for divorcing parents to have different comfort levels.   These standards could even differ based on the age of each child.    In some situations, such as schools as health care facilities where masking is required, parents will not have to make a choice; however, there are dozens of other scenarios where disagreements may arise. For example, should their child go to a sporting event, or birthday party, or concert – and if so, should they be masked and/or socially distanced?  Is the answer different if the event takes place indoors or outdoors?  Does it make a difference if the child is five or fifteen?  Finding a neutral third-party such as a parenting coordinator may help parties to resolve the issue between themselves.    A Judge would likely look to a governmental health authority such as the CDC.

Parents need to weigh both the physical implications of their decision on their child, as well as the emotional implications.   However, parents should always try to focus on what is in the best interest of the child.