Vaccinations and Family Law
Family Court and Vaccinations
Whilst many couples have long, happy relationships, there are bound to be one or more serious points of disagreement when it comes to raising children. These issues become more relevant in circumstances where the couple has separated and have different views on how best to raise the child. One increasingly common topic is whether to issue children with vaccinations.
In recent years, the social media contentions around vaccinations has continued to grow. Parents from the anti-vaccination side typically argue the adverse side effects some vaccinations may have on the children and the risk of harmful reactions, whilst the pro-vaccination side argue the less chance of contracting diseases should their child mix with other children. But how does the Family Court view this matter?
Although most family law cases are determined upon the relevant facts and circumstances of each individual case, previous case law may indicate where the Court stands on this issue. In the case of Duke-Randall & Randall  FamCA 126, an application was brought by the Father and the Mother had an unwavering position as anti-vaccination.
Following the breakdown of the marriage, the Father had concerns regarding the disadvantages the children faced as a result of not being allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities due to their non-vaccinations. The Father asserted the health of the children would not be affected should the vaccinations go ahead.
After hearing expert evidence on the matter, in addition to the arguments presented by both sides, the Judge ordered that the children be vaccinated, as it was in their best interests to do so. The risks of harm were insignificant, and the benefits far exceeded these. According to Justice Foster, “There is no evidence before the Court that these particular children would be adversely affected by being vaccinated”. The Judge did state that the evidence only related to the specific children in question, and, given alternate facts such as low-immune systems, family history or allergies, the outcome may have been different. The Judge further cited in his reasons that the effect of vaccination would have a positive influence on the children being able to attend various extra-curricular activities they had wished to attempt.