Which parent has the right to consent to COVID vaccine for child(ren)?


In the next few months I will get the question, “I want to give our children the new COVID vaccine but the other parent won’t let me. Can I just give my kids the COVID vaccine without their father’s/mother’s consent?” Once vaccines roll out there is likely to be initial wariness about their safety and effectiveness until the full medical reviews are known. Concerned parents will want the experts to weigh in on the studies. They will want to know the consensus of the medical community on the various options.

If you have a Texas court order you should have specific rights and duties spelled out in the paperwork. In most Court papers those are in the first 5-10 pages. Look at your court orders to see what is specifically awarded to you and the other parent. If you have no court orders then the general law would apply.

Independent vs joint vs tiebreaker language

Texas Family Code 151.001 lists the usual rights and duties each parent is awarded. The one that would pertain this this question is the right to make invasive medical decisions. Court orders have this right spelled out specifically. Usually this right is an “independent” right, meaning the parent that has the child with them can make invasive medical decisions without the express consent of the other parent. They just have to inform the other parent afterwards. Sometimes the right to make invasive medical decisions must be “jointly” made by agreement of both parents. If this is how your Order reads then you must have the consent of the other parent. A more sophisticated Order will say these medical decisions must be jointly made, but if the parties cannot or will not agree then you follow the advice of the doctor. This would be “joint with tiebreaker” language. That would cover you if the doctor recommends something but the other parent will not consent.

If you are stuck and cannot get the other parent to agree then your option would be mediation or a court filing requesting the Judge give approval (or deny approval) for the vaccine. It will be a battle of the experts for the Judge to decide the best course of action. This could be an expensive and lengthy battle depending on your area’s court availability and the particulars of your case. It is best to consult with an attorney who is familiar with your local courts/judges and make a recommendation based on your specific facts.