Custody and Vaccinations: Can you lose a child by not vaccinating?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Friday, November 15, 2013.

Julia Ioffe, a senior editor at the New Republic, has the whooping cough and is not pleased. We conquered whooping cough along with the Nazis in the 1940s. Why is it back? What does it have to do with child custody?

Some parents decline immunization as a tenet of their religious beliefs. Some parents fear the risk of serious reactions to vaccines, and some think chemicals in vaccines cause autism.

When Jacob Holmes was 1, his pediatrician administered the MMR II vaccine. 9 days later he experienced seizures. 6 months later he was dead.

Extremely contagious whooping cough was conquered by a vaccine invented in the 1940s. Yet, in 2010 a whooping cough outbreak killed 10 babies in California. Studies show that children who did not get vaccinated contributed to the California outbreak.

The decision not to vaccinate can have a big impact in society:

  • In 2012, there were 48,277 reported cases of whooping cough, the highest since 1955.
  • Texas is currently fighting a whooping cough epidemic.
  • Washington State experienced a whooping cough epidemic in 2012

Your decision not to vaccinate can also impact your divorce case.

In Florida, a court can carve out an exception to shared parental responsibility, giving one parent “ultimate authority” to make decisions. There are at least two cases in Florida.

In one case, a Florida court heard the conflicting positions on immunization, and decided that it would be in the child’s best interest to allow the anti-vaccination Mother to make the ultimate decision regarding the child’s immunization.

Ten years later, a different Florida court heard conflicting testimony, and decided it was in the child’s best interest to award the pro-vaccination Father ultimate responsibility to make decisions regarding the minor child’s vaccinations.

The decision to vaccinate raises interesting family law issues. It is important to know what your rights and responsibilities are in Florida, especially when there are conflicting Florida court decisions about whether vaccinations are in your child’s best interest.