Vaccinating or not vaccinating your child is a choice that comes under parental responsibility, as it involves the long-term care, welfare and development of a child.
Generally speaking, there is a presumption that both parents have equal parental responsibility. However, if both parents don’t agree it can become a very complex thing to navigate as there are often strong emotions and beliefs involved.
With the rollout of the COVID19 vaccines, we have seen an increase in parents struggling with this issue and wanting to understand their options from a legal perspective.
What are your legal options when it comes to vaccinating your child?
If you and your child’s other parent are not able to agree on vaccination (COVID or other) you can seek an order from the court to have, or not have, your child vaccinated. It is important to understand that court will base the decision on what it considers to be in the child’s best interests. Naturally that will involve taking into account each parent’s reasoning and the child’s medical and cultural needs.
Covington & Covington (2021) FLC 94 – 014
This very recent case illustrates that the court stands in favour of immunising a child and can order a child to be vaccinated irrespective of a parent’s consent.
In this case, the father wanted their 12 year old child vaccinated. The mother had revoked her earlier consent to the child being vaccinated claiming she was under duress, coercion and pressure at the time she agreed.
The court ordered that the child should be vaccinated.
The mother appealed the decision, but it was dismissed by the High Court as there is a long-standing history of other cases in support of making an order that a child be vaccinated.
Applying for a court order to have your child vaccinated
The new family law court rules (introduced 1 September 2021) require you to participate in a family dispute resolution process, before applying to have the matter heard by the court. This process involves using mediation to help you and the other parent reach agreement outside of the courts. If that is unsuccessful you can then commence proceedings to seek a court order.
The team at Lakey Family Law have experience in this area and can advise and assist you in understanding your legal options and avenues in relation to the vaccination of your child.
Should you like to progress the legal avenues, as both accredited mediators and family lawyers we can facilitate the family dispute resolution process and if need be you application for a court order.
The first step is with a conversation. Please feel free to contact us for an initial, obligation free, confidential chat.