Addressing COVID Vaccinations in your Divorce Parenting Plan

Co-parenting when you’re divorced can be complicated and difficult. You have to agree over your child’s schedule, their activities, parenting plans, and maybe even their diet and their friends. The COVID-19 vaccine adds another obstacle for divorced parents. With so many divided over the vaccine, it’s entirely common if two parents disagree about whether their child gets it or not.

With the FDA and CDC permitting children ages 5-11 to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s the perfect time to understand how you can navigate a vaccination decision with your child’s other parent through mediation. The purpose of mediation is to come to a mutual agreement with compassion and fairness. Ultimately, your parenting plan needs to have a focus on the well-being of your kids, even when you disagree.

The COVID Vaccine for Kids

Children who are 12 years of age or older have been allowed to get a COVID vaccine since earlier this year. Now, that the CDC and FDA approved a lower dose of the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, millions of families will have to make big decisions over whether to vaccinate their younger kids.

According to Mayo Clinic, the vaccine is 100% effective at preventing COVID in children ages 12 to 16. For kids ages 5 to 11, recent studies show the Pfizer vaccine to be over 90% effective in preventing serious illness. While these numbers are exciting for some parents, who are eager to get their children vaccinated, many others don’t see the vaccine as necessary for children and are worried about possible side effects. If you find that you and your co-parent fall on opposite sides of this issue, you may want to consider using mediation.

What is a Parenting Plan?

When two people with minor children divorce, they must create a parenting plan. This plan is a document that the two parties create and agree upon after which the court may approve it. A parenting plan includes things such as legal decision-making (custody), parenting time (visitation), and parental responsibility. It may also touch on topics like education, health care, extracurricular activities, travel, and financial support. Parenting plans are required to include a time-sharing schedule, as well. Regarding legal decision-making (legal custody), a parent with sole legal decision-making does not need to obtain permission from the other parent (but should at least consult with them) before making any decisions about their child, including whether or not to vaccinate them against COVID.

Of course, if you have joint legal decision-making, this vaccination will need to be a decision you make together and you may want to address that in creating your parenting plan Because parenting plans cannot foresee things such as a global pandemic, they can be revised. When two parties are first creating their parenting plan, they must include information on how revisions will be made when necessary. This would also include any processes to resolve disagreements about revisions.

Tips for A Parenting Plan During COVID

Are you creating or revising your parenting plan? Here are some of our tips for a parenting plan during COVID-19:

  • All decisions should be made with your child’s best interest at heart.
  • Don’t try to keep score.
  • Enter disputes with the goal of finding a solution.
  • Get better at communication. Things are constantly changing, and you should be in frequent contact with each other to make sure you’re on the same page about your child.

You may also want to keep these questions in mind when making decisions:

  • Does it make sense for the child to move between houses during times of quarantine, virtual school, and ever-changing mandates?
  • Does one household have an at-risk person living in the home who shouldn’t be exposed to anything the child may catch at school?
  • Is one parent more capable of being at home if the child needs to attend school virtually?

Arizona Mediation Services

If you’ve tried everything you can to navigate COVID while co-parenting with your divorced partner and still can’t find a solution, you may need to use a mediation service. At Affordable Mediation, we work with divorced and divorcing parents to help them come to mutual agreements regarding their child’s wellbeing. For help today, give us a call at 602.714.7447.