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What Happens When Parents Disagree on Medical Decisions?

Posted on in Child Custody

geneva family law attorneyFor the past 18 months or so, the United States has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, states have begun to lift restrictions and mask mandates, including Illinois, which lifted mask mandates at the end of May. Dealing with the pandemic has raised many legal issues,  such as the rights of individuals when it comes to mask-wearing and vaccinations. As the FDA has granted one vaccine manufacturer emergency use authorization for children 12 and older, and a second is getting ready to request full licensure for children to receive their vaccine, another major legal issue may be looming: What happens when co-parents disagree on whether their child should receive the vaccine?

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Several years ago, Illinois lawmakers did a complete overhaul of the state’s family law statutes. Included in those changes was the elimination of terms like child custody and visitation. Instead, family court judges issue orders regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

The allocation of parental responsibilities addresses important decision-making on issues that affect the child. These include education, religious upbringing, healthcare, and extracurricular activities. The courts have three options when it comes to the allocation of parental responsibilities and will always choose the one that is in the child’s best interest:

  • Joint decision making - The parents have an equal say in all major decisions in a child’s life and must work together to come up with those decisions.

  • Split decision making - The court divides up issues between the parents. For example, one parent may have sole decision-making about the child’s education while the other parent may have sole decision-making about the child’s religious upbringing.

  • Sole decision making - One parent will have sole decision-making about all major issues concerning the child.

Ideally, both parents should work together. The law and the courts encourage the “maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents regarding the physical, mental, moral, and emotional wellbeing of their child.” Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and parents may not be able to agree on one or many issues.

Legal Options When Parents Disagree on Medical Decisions

The COVID-19 vaccine for children is just one medical decision that co-parents may disagree on. Disagreeing about vaccines and other medical treatments is a common reason why parents end up back in family court. If there is shared decision-making regarding medical issues and both parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will examine the facts both parties put forth and determine what is in the best interest of the child.

Contact a Kane County Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Attorney

If you are having co-parenting issues and feel it may be time for the court to intervene, a skilled Geneva family law attorney from Emily Rapp at McSwain Nagle Giese & Rapp, P.C. can help. Call our office today at 630-402-0185 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.



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