What happens if one parent wants to vaccinate a child but the other disagrees?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2021 | child custody |

Both married parents and those who share legal custody in Ohio must collaborate on medical decisions involving their minor children. These decisions often create conflict when only one parent wants a child to receive recommended vaccinations.

Review the factors that determine the outcome when parents disagree about vaccinating their children in Ohio.


The child’s school setting may influence his or her vaccine schedule. Ohio public schools require certain vaccinations for attendance. If your child is in the public school system, you may have to complete the recommended vaccination schedule for registration. However, some parents may opt for private schools that have different requirements.

Decision-making responsibility

When divorced or separated parents disagree about vaccines, the answer lies in the family’s custody agreement. Ohio refers to legal custody as a decision-making responsibility. If a parent has sole decision-making responsibility, he or she has the final determination about important decisions for the child, including medical choices such as whether to vaccinate.

The situation becomes more complicated for parents who have shared decision-making responsibilities. If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree about vaccinations, you may want to request a modification of custody to ask for sole decision-making responsibility. However, you must show the court that the existing arrangement could potentially cause the child harm.

If you petition the court for custody modification, the other parent will have a chance to respond with his or her own petition. The court will hold a hearing to decide whether the disagreement about medical care warrants a change in custody as a potential hazard to the child’s best interest.