Mother Deprived Custody of Her Child on the Basis of Refusing to Vaccinate for COVID-19
While the COVID-19 quarantine is safely in our rearview mirror, issues related to COVID-19 still persist. In one custody hearing filed in the state of New York, two parents differed on whether or not to vaccinate their children. The father, who was vaccinated, advocated that his children should be vaccinated against the virus. The mother, on the other hand, believed that the vaccine was still in its infancy stages and was concerned about vaccinating her children against the virus. A dispute erupted as the parents had joint legal custody of their children and each wanted the final say as to whether to have the children vaccinated. As a result of the dispute, the courts had to step in and render a final decision. In this article, the Westchester County divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Robert. S. Sunshine will discuss the case and how the court came to its final decision.
Dispute on whether to vaccinate
The former spouses had been divorced since 2016. As part of their divorce settlement, the parties had joint legal custody of their children. That means that both parents had decision-making power over key issues related to the children including healthcare decisions, educational matters, and religious instruction. In a hearing held over the court of three days, the father testified that he wanted to have his children vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus while the mother listed several reasons why she was remiss to vaccinate her children. In addition to these arguments, each party testified concerning conduct engaged in by the other parent which each party claimed was indicative of poor parenting sufficient to form a basis to change the custody arrangement. While there was no testimony in this case provided by a medical doctor, the father argued that the children’s pediatrician advocated for vaccination.
In rendering its decision, the court at no point addressed the efficacy of the vaccine. Instead, the court addressed the best interests of the children which is common in child custody cases in New York State. In furtherance of the best interests of the children, the court found that the recommendation of the children’s pediatrician, who had seen the children for the past 10 years, was enough to tilt the scales in favor of the father. The pediatrician had been jointly selected by both parents after the divorce. The court cited several other cases related to the COVID-19 vaccine in which parents disputed whether or not to vaccinate their children.
In the end, the court determined that the father should have sole decision-making power over the medical choices their children were subject to. The court based this decision on the fact that the prevailing medical consensus on the matter was that the vaccine was safe and effective and that the children’s pediatrician recommended that the children get vaccinated.
Talk to a Rockland County Child Custody Attorney Today
If you are in a dispute with your co-parent as to medical decisions affecting your children, the Rockland County divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine can help advocate for your interests. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin addressing your concerns right away.