With increasing accessibility of COVID-19 vaccinations, there is increasingly likelihood of dispute between parents concerning the vaccination of their children. What can be done if your ex-partner refuses to consent to your child receiving a vaccination?
Vaccination of children is a long-term parenting decision that falls within the scope of ‘parental responsibility’ within the meaning of the Family Law Act. If you and the other parent cannot agree on whether your child should be vaccinated against COVID-19, application can be made to the Family Court to resolve this issue.
In the case of Covington v Covington (2021) FLC 94-014, a mother who had withdrawn consent over the vaccination of her child argued the Australian Constitution prohibited the Family Court from making vaccination orders for her child, and a doctor administering any vaccination would be committing an assault against her child. The Court dismissed her appeal, holding the authority of the Family Court to make orders with respect to child vaccination is well settled and that decision would turn on the facts of each case.
The case of Duke-Randall & Randall  FamCA 126 further provides that where such a decision is to be made by the Court, the Court will have regard to the best interests of the child, which includes the review of medical evidence concerning the child’s vaccination.
If application is made to the Family Court concerning a child’s vaccination, in exercising discretion the Court may make an order that grants one parent sole responsibility for making medical decisions (inclusive of vaccinations) or grant sole responsibility for all major long-term decisions concerning the child’s wellbeing and care. Alternatively, the Court may order parents ensure that their child is vaccinated in compliance with the National Immunisation Program Schedule.
If you and your ex-partner disagree as to the vaccination of your child, please do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 8917 8700 for assistance in resolving your matter.