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Vaccinations and child custody

As those who follow the news may know, parents in the Los Angeles area and other parts of California more and more have strong feelings, one way or the other, about common childhood vaccinations that the medical community continues to recommend.

Some parents support the prevailing views of doctors, while others are not so sure that the risks of vaccines have been fully vetted.

According to a report, California's mandatory vaccination law for children attending schools has not put the debate to rest. While the state since 2015 has not allowed objections to vaccines on moral or personal grounds, the law does allow parents to object on medical grounds. In California, all one needs is a note from a properly licensed physician.

If parents are on the same page about vaccinations, then the process is straightforward enough. However, particularly in homes where parents do not live together, a disagreement about whether a vaccination is appropriate for a child can be a real source of conflict between parents.

Ultimately, how this conflict gets resolved under the law really depends on what a couple's parenting plan provides. The parenting plan, for instance, may specifically address the question of vaccinations.

In the absence of a provision, the parent who has legal custody, that is, the authority to make medical and educational decisions for the child, has the final say. If parents happen to share legal custody, then they ordinarily will both have to agree or one of them will likely have to return to court.

The concerned parent will have to ask the judge to make an addition to or change in its orders consistent with the best interest of the child involved. Returning to court may necessitate that a parent obtain legal representation.

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