Measles, Mumps and Custody

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, December 4, 2014.

Dr. Haider Warraich wrote an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about a young girl admitted to his hospital with an illness no one could diagnose. What was the illness, and what does it have to do with divorce?

It turns out the mysterious illness was measles. U.S. measles cases hit a 17-year high in 2013 after being eliminated from the country in 2000, thanks to a combination of religious-inspired objections and the spread of vaccine-related conspiracies.

Some parents decline vaccinations as a tenet of their religious beliefs. Other parents fear the risk of serious reactions to vaccines, and some follow the latest Hollywood fad claiming that vaccines cause autism.

I’ve blogged about the interplay of vaccinations and custody before, and I have a new article in the winter edition of the Florida Bar Family Law Section’s Commentator.

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 reported decisions in Florida discussing vaccinations and shared parental responsibility. However, the two courts reached different results.

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

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 the final decision.

The decision not to vaccinate your child can have a big impact in society, as the recent measles case proves. The decision not to vaccinate also 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.

Dr. Warraich’s opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal can be read here. (Subscriber’s only)