The year 2022 is already off to a demanding start. In this rapidly changing world, the government has announced two major changes in the last week that have had drastic impacts on families.
Firstly, children aged five to 11 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The Queensland government has also moved the return to school from 24 January to 7 February to avoid the predicted Omicron wave peak and to allow more time for children to get vaccinated.
But what should separated parents do if they have differing views on vaccination? And what is the impact of the two-week increase in holiday time on parenting arrangements for separated families? In this two-part series, we’ll shed some light on how you can begin to navigate these recent government announcements in the context of your family dynamic.
An often controversial topic whenever someone mentions the COVID-19 pandemic is the decision to vaccinate against it. Whilst this is an individual choice for most, separated families have an added layer of complexity when it comes to making the joint decision for their children. Navigating the negotiation pathways with regards to the decision to vaccinate your children can be extremely difficult, and seemingly impossible for some families where parents have diverging views. The hard part for these parents is that it is an all or nothing proposition – children can either be vaccinated or not, there is no middle ground available.
As with all co-parenting scenarios, it is best to try and reach an agreement in an amicable manner so as to avoid your kids being exposed to disruption and conflict between their parents. As family lawyers, all too often we see the detrimental impacts that hostile communication between parents can have on kids. We always recommend communicating your position and the rationale behind it in a way that focuses on the best interests of your children. Leave name-calling and threats at the door, and ensure your communication is calm, polite, and centred around your kids.
If you already have a parenting agreement or Court order in place which provides for “shared parental responsibility” (which you can read about here), then both parents are required to agree to any long-term decisions impacting their children. This includes the decision to vaccinate your child or not, whether that’s against COVID-19 or anything else.
If you are unable to reach an agreement by communicating with the other parent, there are some options to help you move forward. Each option will depend on your unique and individual set of circumstances, presenting various pros and cons for each. We recommend talking to an experienced family lawyer about how to move forward and reach an agreement with the other parent.
Be sure to also follow us on Facebook so you can keep an eye out for the second part of this series where we’ll provide some insight into the impact of the delay to the schooling year for Queensland students.