Which Parent Gets to Make Healthcare Decisions For Their Child?

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Often, parents feel very strongly about how to raise their children. As a result, co-parents are not always in agreement about what is best. This is especially true when it comes to the child’s health. Currently, many co-parents are struggling to agree about whether or not to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. Read on to learn more about what to do in the event that you and your ex-spouse cannot agree upon vaccinating your children.

What is Legal Custody?

In New York, there are two main forms of custody awarded to parents. These types are as follows:

  • Physical custody: This determines the parent the child lives with and spends most of their time with. They are responsible for the child’s daily life and care, such as a home, schooling, clothes, food, etc. In some cases, sole physical custody may be awarded if one parent is believed to be “unfit” or a danger to the child. However, visitation rights may still be allowed.
  • Legal custody: This is in regard to a parent’s right to be involved in making decisions for the child throughout their upbringing. This can include healthcare, academics, religion, and the child’s general well-being. It is important to fight for legal custody even if the parent does not have physical custody.

Sole Legal Custody vs Shared Legal Custody

If you have sole legal custody, you can decide whether or not to vaccinate your child without input from your ex-spouse. But, if you share legal custody, you will have to be in agreement.

If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree, you should consult with your child’s pediatrician. This will help you make a fully informed decision. If one party still objects to the vaccine, he or she may need to request mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party helping you work through the matters at hand and come to an agreement. If mediation does not work, you may need to leave the decision in the hands of a New York judge. If this occurs, a New York court will work to make the decision that is in your child’s best interests.

If you have any questions or concerns about making decisions about your child’s healthcare while co-parenting, reach out to our firm to speak with an experienced and dedicated family law attorney.


Peter V. Mandi, Esq. is an experienced divorce and family law attorney located in Bohemia, New York. Our firm understands the impact a divorce can have on your life. If you require strong and dedicated legal representation in Long Island, New York, please do not hesitate to contact Peter V. Mandi & Associates, Inc. today.

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