Janice Roven Addresses Family Law Dynamics During COVID-19 Conditions

Janice Roven, founder of the Roven law Group has been practicing law for over 35 years and provides the strength, compassion, and wisdom of personal experience when dealing with family law.

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While parenting your children, there are always issues that arise of which, you as parents, may not agree. Somehow, as parents of an intact family, you figure out the answers together. When you are parents involved in a divorce proceeding or post-divorce, issues around health can be a bit more complicated. The COVID pandemic has not made this any simpler. First, there was the issue of whether your ex-spouse should have access to the children. Should your ex visit the children? Should the children spend the night at the other parent’s home? How careful is the other parent being? Did the other parent return to work at an office? Is the other parent commuting on public transportation? Did the other parent get vaccinated? Did the other parent get covid and expose the children? There are several covid-related issues that are still very much at the forefront.

What happens if you want your child vaccinated and your spouse does not? There are several questions that have to be addressed to get to the answer.

First, who has decision making with respect to health?  There should be a “document,” an agreement, stipulation or Court order, that outlines how decisions surrounding health are made. It is possible that this document outlines a structure that must be followed if there is disagreement. For example, first the parties have to have a conversation. It is possible that the following step involves one of the parties makes a decision. It is possible that there has to be a consultation with a physician. It is possible that the parties have to enter into some type of mediation or arbitration surrounding a health issues that cannot be resolved amicably. If there is an existing document, it will control what to do. You cannot vaccinate your child if your ex-spouse does not consent and you do not have final decision-making power with respect to health. Physicians will not vaccinate unless they have both parents’ consent.

That being said, it is critical that if you do not have a divorce agreement yet, that when it comes to drafting the agreement this issue of health not be given short shrift. You should think about a method to make a decision in which the children are protected and the issue does not become a power struggle between you and your spouse. You and your attorney need to create a system that is going to work for you and your children. Health issues are no longer about tonsils or what to do if the child has a fever. Whether to vaccinate a child against COVID or the next pandemic will be part of our future and an issue that has to be addressed one way or another.