Cases Increasing for Divorced Parents Suing Each Other Over Children's COVID-19 Vaccine

Photo: (Photo : Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images)

Divorced parents disagree about the best ways to protect their children as options for the COVID-19 vaccine in kids are now available. Some are going to court to fight each other, fueling more tensions in the family.

Veronica, a critical care nurse in New England, told The Washington Post that she had panic attacks whenever her ex-husband would message her about their 12-year-old daughter's vaccination. The mom witnessed how much damage the virus can do to unvaccinated patients, but the father challenged her decision in court.

What followed was six weeks of expensive bills to lawyers. Both parents came prepared with pages of articles and research to present to the court, including a recommendation from their child's pediatrician.

Theirs isn't the only court battle over their kid's vaccination, as Hillary Moonay, a Pennsylvania family lawyer, said that they had several cases involving parents and the custody over who gets to decide the child's vaccination.

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First Major Disagreement for Some Ex-Couples

Same-sex parents Michelle Roy-Augustin and her ex-partner could navigate their divorce and custody without any problems until the COVID-19 vaccine became an issue. Roy-Augustin has two boys, ages 12 and 10, but she prefers to wait for the vaccines for the kids when a larger sampling of trials in children would confirm its safety.

Speaking with WebMD, the mother said that she and her ex-wife clashed over this decision, and it was their biggest disagreement as divorced parents. They used to be always on the same page on everything, including their children's other vaccinations.

According to Atlanta lawyer Kyla Lines, parents are "certainly going to fight over their kids," as a ploy for a power play. Lawyers are bracing as they will get involved in these deeply personal and complicated cases.

Depending on the family dynamics, disputes relating to vaccinations could be harder to iron out because parents have different activities and preferences. For instance, one parent might feel it's safe for the family to enjoy indoor dining while the other parent doesn't want the kids exposed and venturing outside. Simple disagreements could quickly turn into full-blown court battles.

Lawyer Elizabeth Lindsey said that one's belief system could also influence the fight between parents. One parent could trust the science while the other could be skeptical, and it's the belief systems that are harder to change, so the court has to intervene.

COVID-19 Vaccine for 5 to 11 Years Old

The clashes come as Pfizer had sought authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children between 5 to 11 years old from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It could likely trigger more disputes among parents since the younger children will soon be part of the vaccine statistics. Pfizer projects could roll out with the program by the holidays.

The drug manufacturer has received full authorization for vaccines for the above 16 years old. Full approval is still pending for kids between 12 to 15 years old, but the children may be vaccinated under emergency authority use. The trial for the COVID-19 vaccine for kids below five years old is still underway. 

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