Vaccinations and Family Law Parenting Proceedings

Vaccinations and Family Law Parenting Proceedings

Vaccinations and Family Law Parenting Proceedings

At the end of 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations became available for younger Australian children. Whilst the majority of Australians agree that the vaccination is in the best interest of their children there have been several recent disputes in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia regarding parental consent to vaccination.  A summary of some of these recent cases on is as follows:  

  • In the case of Rusena & Rusena [2022] FedCFamC2F 472 14 April 2022, the mother was opposed to the vaccination of her children and sought to restrain the father from facilitating their vaccination against COVID-19. In this case, the Court ordered that the father be allocated the sole parental responsibility exclusively, for decisions relating to the children’s COVID–19 vaccination. Both parties produced expert evidence supporting their case, however, the Judge presiding over the matter found that whilst there are risks associated with the vaccine, these risks are outweighed by the benefits the children are likely to receive from the vaccination.
  • In the case of  Cranston & Persson (No 2) [2022] FedCFamC1F 187, 25 March 2022, the father sought an order that neither party be permitted to cause the children to be vaccinated against COVID-19 without the written consent of the other party. Sole parental responsibility was awarded to the mother for the purpose of making decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.  Deputy Chief Justice McClelland found in favour of the mother, on the basis that as the children had received the first dose of the vaccine without adverse reaction, the risks of the children suffering adverse effects from further COVID-19 vaccine doses are minimal and outweighed by the benefit.
  • In the case of Karcher & Lacoss [2022] FedCFamC2F 281, 3 March 2022, the father sought an authority from the Court to arrange the vaccination of his 11 year old child without the mother’s consent. The mother did not wish for the child to be vaccinated and expressed this view to the father. In determining the matter, Justice O’Shannessy noted that the father’s desires for the vaccination of the child were in accordance with the advice received from the child’s General Practitioner and found in favour of the father, awarding him sole parental responsibilities for all vaccination decisions relating to the child.
  • In the case of Lamos & Radin (No 2) [2022] FedCFamC2F 167, 18 February 2022, the father sought to have his 16 year old child vaccinated against COVID-19 and the mother opposed. Justice Hughes presided over the matter and found that whilst both parents’ views relating to vaccination were genuinely held, it was in the best interest of the child to be vaccinated. The father was authorised to vaccinate the child without the mother’s consent, provided that the child also consented.
  • In the case of Fontain & Pretre [2022] FedCFamC1F 198, 9 February 2022, the father sought an injunction to prevent the mother from vaccinating their 6 and 8 year old children. The father’s application was dismissed by the Judge presiding over the matter and the Father was ordered to pay the Independent Children’s Lawyer’s costs and part of the mother’s legal costs.
  • In the case of Clay and Dallas [2022] FCWA 18, 18 January 2022, the mother opposed the vaccination of her 15 year old child and the father sought to be permitted to enable the child to be vaccinated. The child had previously experienced heart murmurs in 2015 and had already received her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. The child also wished to receive the vaccination. The Judge presiding over the matter made orders for the child to be administered the second and third doses of COVID-19 vaccines, providing that the child undergoes an echocardiogram prior to receiving any further vaccinations.    

In summary, the spate of recent cases relating to children receiving COVID-19 vaccinations illustrates that the Court is willing to exercise its power to authorise one parent to vaccinate their children even when the other parent opposes vaccination. The Court will consider whether the vacation of the child is deemed to be in their best interest given the facts that are unique to each case, such as any pre-existing medical conditions. The Court acknowledges that there are risks associated with COVID-19 vaccinations and has now determined in a succession of cases that the benefits a child receives from vaccination outweigh these risks.

If this article has triggered concerns or questions for you, please feel free to speak with one of our experienced Family Law Solicitors on 8525 2700 or click here to request an appointment.

Article written by Adrian Stock
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

Post A Comment