Adults often don’t see a doctor regularly. Other than an annual physical, they may only seek out medical care during an emergency or when they notice severe and persistent symptoms. Children, on the other hand, often have to see a doctor multiple times a year.

In addition to well-child visits and medical intervention for common childhood illnesses and injuries, like an arm broken during hockey practice, children will also have multiple visits where they receive immunizations.

Infants aren’t the only ones who get shots for preventative purposes. There are also immunizations that older children and teenagers receive. Who gets to decide which immunizations your children will receive if you share custody with your ex?

Medical decisions are part of legal custody

Parents who separate or divorce in New York will usually need to share legal and physical custody of their children. Physical custody gives a parent time with the children and responsibilities for their basic needs. Legal custody makes a parent responsible for crucial decisions about a child’s life.

Often, parents share legal custody. If you already have a parenting plan, it likely addresses how you split decision-making authority with your ex. The custody order or parenting plan might require that you reach an agreement, or it may give one parent the right to make the final decision if the parents cannot agree on a specific issue. Sometimes, the courts split legal authority so that each parent has decision-making authority for children depending on the topic.

The parent with legal custody over a child or the right to make medical decisions will be the one who ultimately chooses which immunizations a child receives. 

What if you don’t have authority and you don’t agree?

If you don’t have legal custody and you don’t agree with your spouse’s stance on immunization, you can potentially go back to court. Custody modifications are always an option when there has been a change in the family circumstances. Believing that your spouse is not acting in the best interests of the children would be a justifiable reason to ask for custody modification.

Obtaining legal custody rights can help you influence the health care decisions made on behalf of your minor children. When you have the authority to keep your kids safe, you are in a position to keep them healthy as you enjoy your new happily ever after.