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Guardians, Parents and COVID-19 Vaccination

Carrie A.S. Kennedy of Connor, Weber & Oberlies recently argued successfully in the area of guardianship and COVID-19 Vaccination, as the Chester County Judge concluded that he agreed with the opinion of an expert witness in the case, “The science is clear … ‘this is not a difficult call. Vaccination against COVID-19 saves lives.’”

This legal case involved a disagreement between a mother and father over the vaccination of their adult daughter, with Down syndrome, who lives in a local group home. Her parents are long-divorced and are court appointed as co-guardians of their daughter. After making no progress in resolving the issue, the father petitioned for vaccination of his daughter.

The case is an example of the challenges of co-guardianship, especially when the co-guardians are divorced. When the parents originally agreed to seek the co-guardianship, they had a cooperative relationship as to the care of their daughter.

This conflict and similar COVID-19 related disagreements were unanticipated at the start of the pandemic and illustrate the difficulty of co-parenting and co-guardianship.  A growing number of these cases have come to occupy the time of family and orphans’ courts– another effect of this pandemic on the overall society that is not often considered.

One of the primary keys in deciding this specific case was the expert witness testimony. However, there is no overall trend either toward or away from COVID-19 vaccination in legal cases.  These are fact specific cases which often depend on individual Judges, Courts, locations, and of course, a wide variety of legal arguments.

As a side note we would like to thank The Legal Intelligencer for their featured article written by Aleeza Furman on October 13, 2021 in their publication.