24 Feb Parental Conflict for Child Vaccinations
Living in a global pandemic is stressful enough until you add the conflict surrounding the COVID vaccination. With mortality rates increasing the world is becoming an overwhelming place and segregation is prominent when considering if your child should get vaccinated. Child immunisation is a difficult parental issue to resolve as generally both parents are doing what they believe is in the best interest of their child, but what happens when parents can’t come to a civil agreement? Generally, a child under 12 years needs parental consent for the COVID vaccination unless they are deemed intellectually incapable: Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority  AC 112. What happens when one parent wants their child vaccinated and the other is firm against it: Who has authority?
Parental Responsibility is outlined in the Family Law Act 1975 as are all decisions in relation to your child regarding major long-term issues, including but not limited to your child’s health. The Act determines that parents must make a ‘genuine effort’ to reach a joint decision in these circumstances. This can be obtained through Mediation, which is a structured, interactive process where a qualified impartial Mediator assists in resolving conflict. Going to Court can be extremely emotionally and financially taxing, and should be avoided where possible however, in some circumstances, there may be no choice.
Court Proceedings as a last Resort
Where Family Mediation is unsuccessful, it may be reasonable to go to Court and obtain a Parenting Order. The Family Law Act 1975 states that where the parties cannot agree, in the best interest of the child, a Parenting Order must be acquired. It has been consistently proven that the Court is inclined to serve parental orders in favour of child immunisation: Covington & Covington 2021. This is not absolute as the Court has been certain to balance factors when considering the COVID vaccine. Factors that are considered include but are not limited to medical history of the family, environmental circumstances, and the current government standpoint. It is certain that parents opposing the COVID vaccination will need to acquire extensive medical evidence to support that the vaccine will be harmful to their child. Court processes are emotionally straining, extensive, and financially taxing so the support provided by your Family Lawyers are important.
Currently the Court is overrun with parental disputes regarding COVID vaccinations. Understandably, living in a pandemic and determining major decisions for you family is undeniably stressful. When approaching Mediation both parties should make a genuine attempt at reconciliation, however we don’t live in a perfect world and Court may be the only option left.
Written by Jesse Coplick