There are many challenges in an emotionally charged co-parenting relationship but a new conflict has emerged in The Divorce Centre Parenting after Separation program this year between separated parents.
There is an increasing number of separated parents battling it out on whether to give their children the COVID vaccine.
This is putting children under immense stress.
Fear and anxiety heighten as the vaccinated parent declares it is dangerous if their child is not vaccinated from the deadly COVID disease and the unvaccinated parent declares the vaccine is dangerous as it is poison they are not willing to be injected into their child. The child is living in fear of both scenarios thinking they may die of the disease or die from the poison. They feel very uncertain about what will happen to them and hope their parents can find a solution to make them feel safe, secure and heathy.
Both parents are rigid in their opposing belief and strongly believe they are trying to protect their child.
So, what do they do in this stalemate?
The government hasn’t mandated the COVID vaccination for children so it is down to the parents to decide. That’s all well and good if both parents think the vaccine is the best solution to keep their child safe but we have separated parents who are on opposing sides of COVID vaccination.
If the separated parents have consent orders in place with one parent having sole parental responsibility for decision making then that parent can go ahead and make that decision alone.
If the consent orders have joint parental responsibility, then both parents must agree! But what happens if they can’t! There have been some instances where the pro vax parent has just gone ahead without approval from the other parent!
If they can’t negotiate a solution together, they will need a neutral party such as a mediator to help them come to an agreement.
Each parent will get to voice their concerns and fears for consideration.
The vaccinated parent may raise concerns like;
The child will have a higher risk of catching COVID if they are unvaccinated
The child may become gravely ill and possibly die
The child may be ostracised in the school playground by their vaccinated peers
Social isolation may occur as they may not be invited to playdates or birthday parties
Some businesses do not allow unvaccinated which may affect opportunity for the child to partake in extra curricular activities
Not wanting the child to be where there are unvaccinated people including their unvaccinated coparent so withhold the child due to perceived higher risk of catching COVID
Our child may have a health condition we are not aware of making them immunocompromised
The unvaccinated parent may raise concerns like;
The vaccine has not been tested enough to know the impacts on the child’s health
Children have mild symptoms when they catch COVID which may be better than the vaccination side effects
Anyone can get COVID whether vaccinated or not so why risk them having that poison injected into them
Our child may end up with a health condition if they are vaccinated
It’s mainly older people who get very sick and die of COVID so our child will survive
It’s just like the flu so the child will create antibodies for it
So, what are some of the solutions and agreements that have come out of mediation todate?
Parents have agreed to some or all of the following;
Parent A and Parent B will take their child to the family doctor by DD/MM/YY to be assessed for health risks for and against having the vaccine
Parent A and Parent B will reassess the results of the governments children’s COVID vaccine rollout program in 3 months
Parent A and Parent B will put extra safety measures in place such as custody changeover RAT test of parents and children commencing from DD/MM/YY
Parent A and Parent B agree that if either parent tests positive the child will stay with the negative tested parent until the positive COVID parent has a negative test result
Parent A and Parent B agree that if the child tests positive to COVID the child will stay with the parent where they received the positive test result until they test negative
Parent A and Parent B agree that parents and children are restricted from mass gatherings greater than 20 people for 3 months
Parent A and Parent B agree to create a custody ‘bubble’ within the two-family homes to minimise exposure to covid19
Parent A and Parent B agree to work from home for 3 months
Parent A and Parent B agree to wait until Omicron peak subsides to re-assess risk
Parent A and Parent B agree to reassess outcomes of above agreements on DD/MM/YY
If co-parents cannot come to a mutual decision on child vaccination one of the co-parents may take the issue to court to have a judge decide on whether the child should be vaccinated or not.
Since COVID vaccination is not mandated for children, the case will be heard on evidence of what is in the best interests of the child according to the judge assigned to the case. Supporting evidence from doctors, benefits and detrimental impacts submitted from parents will be considered for a ruling…. which could go either way. In some instances where judges feel the co-parenting relationship is high conflict they may award one of the co-parents sole parental responsibility to make the medical decisions.
It will not only be costly financially but also emotionally!
Meanwhile the child lives in fear, uncertainty and anxiety until a decision is made!
Author Cheryl Duffy - Divorce Coach, Mediator & Author