In Michigan, a judge reduced a mother’s child custody rights after she refused to vaccinate her son. What is the relationship between custody and vaccinations?
Michigan’s Vaccination Case
In Michigan, Oakland County Judge Karen McDonald ruled Wednesday that Rebecca Bredow will no longer have primary custody of the boy but will have joint custody with her ex-husband, James Horne.
Horne wanted to vaccinate the boy, and Bredow agreed to do so last November. But she didn’t. She says vaccinations go against her religious beliefs.
Custody and Vaccinations
Generally, shared parental responsibility is a relationship ordered by a court in which both parents retain their full parental rights and responsibilities.
Under shared parental responsibility, parents are required to confer with each other and jointly make major decisions affecting the welfare of their child.
In Florida, shared parental responsibility is the preferred relationship between parents when a marriage or a relationship ends.
In fact, courts are instructed to order parents to share parental responsibility of a child unless it would be detrimental to the child.
Issues relating to a child’s physical health and medical treatment, including the decision to vaccinate, are major decisions affecting the welfare of a child. When parents cannot agree, the dispute is resolved in court.
At the trial, the test applied is the best interests of the child. Determining the best interests of a child is no longer entirely subjective
Instead, the decision is based on an evaluation of certain factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child and the circumstances of the child’s family.
I’ve written about the decision to vaccinate and custody in Florida before.
In Florida, a court can carve out an exception to shared parental responsibility, giving one parent “ultimate authority” to make decisions, such as the responsibility for deciding on vaccinations.
There are at least two cases in Florida dealing with the decision to vaccinate and custody, and they conflict!
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.
Vaccination and Jail
Back in Michigan, Judge McDonald found Bredow in contempt of court last week and ordered her jailed. She also granted temporary custody to Horne and ordered the boy to be vaccinated. He received four immunizations on Monday.
Bredow told reporters Wednesday she was “in shock” by the court’s decision. Her attorney plans to appeal.