The Coronavirus Vaccine and Divorced Parents in South Dakota

The coronavirus vaccine is leading to disputes between divorced parents over whether to vaccinate their children, raising new legal questions.

“In South Dakota, we’ve already seen disagreements over handling custody arrangements during lockdowns and whether children should stay with a parent who is a frontline health care worker,” said Brooke Schloss. “Whether or not children should be given the vaccine is going to be the next fight in the pandemic.”

If you have sole legal decision-making authority, you will get to decide whether to vaccinate your child. But if you have joint legal decision-making and you disagree, you will probably need to go to Court. However, you should be aware that the Court will not likely be in the business of choosing to vaccinate children and may ultimately defer to medical doctors.

With health care workers, the elderly, and others already being vaccinated in South Dakota, these disputes could soon come to a head. A recent poll found that a sizeable percentage of South Dakotans would refuse to get the vaccine, even if it was free.

“In a courtroom, a judge will be looking for the best interests of the child,” Schloss added. “That might include advice from their pediatrician, current recommendations from public health officials or, with older children, their own thoughts.”

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones