My New Article on Vaccinations and Custody

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, November 11, 2014.

Every school year, some parents argue over whether to immunize their children. I have a new article just published in the Florida Bar Commentator on how courts review vaccination disputes in custody cases. Here is an abstract.

There are a few reasons parents object to vaccinations. A few objectors assert their individual liberties. This happened in one of the earliest vaccination decisions in our country’s history after Cambridge, Massachusetts required smallpox vaccinations.

Others parents are risk averse to the potential impact of vaccinations. After all, vaccinations can be injections of weakened organisms to produce immunity in humans. Sometimes, things go wrong, and we established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to compensate for vaccine-related injuries or deaths.

Celebrity anti-vaccination campaigns confuse many. People have noticed the irony of Jenny McCarthy speaking out against immunizing children against infectious diseases, yet actively promoting nicotine inhalers for a ‘Big Tobacco’ company, which are increasingly used by middle school and high school aged children.

Primarily though, parents objecting to vaccinations hold deep religious beliefs against immunization. Religion is not an express factor for courts to consider in Florida custody cases. It is interesting how courts balance the highly sensitive issues of custody and religion.

There are two vaccination cases in Florida, and the facts in each were very similar. In both cases, the parents shared custody. Both involved chiropractors involved in their children’s health care. And, in both cases the health care professional parent opposed vaccinations. Surprisingly, the judgment in the two cases came out differently.

The article briefly examines Florida’s parental responsibility statute, including the concept of ultimate authority, the two Florida cases in which the decision to vaccinate a child was an issue brought to trial, and traces the development of religion as a factor in parental responsibility cases in Florida.

The new article can be read here.