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    Can the court make me vaccinate my child?


    This is a topical issue considering that we are in the middle of a pandemic and there is a lot of media attention surrounding the need to vaccinate against Covid-19.  

    Vaccination is a matter that can cause dispute between separated parents, and require the intervention of a court to decide the matter.

    The Family Court, in a recent case called Covington & Covington [2021] FamCAFC 52, had to decide whether it had the authority to order the vaccination of a child.

    In this case, the mother filed an appeal against consent orders which required the parents to support their child in receiving vaccinations.  The mother had previously agreed to the orders for vaccination but subsequently changed her mind.  The mother’s position was that the Family Court did not have the jurisdiction under the Constitution to make such an order regarding vaccination.

    The mother’s appeal was opposed by the father and the Independent Children’s Lawyer.

    The court found that the mother’s arguments concerning the Constitutional issue were without merit.  It was decided that the Family Court does have the jurisdiction to make orders concerning the vaccination of a child.  The first basis of that authority is under Section 65 of the Family Law Act which allows a court to make any parenting order that it believes is appropriate.  This is a very wide power which can include vaccination as well as many other areas of dispute.

    The Family Law Rules also provide for a parent to make an application to the court for medical procedures to be carried out on a child.  Vaccination easily qualifies as a medical procedure and so a court does have the authority to decide such an issue.  When deciding whether to make such an order, the primary concern of a court is whether the order is in the best interests of a child or not.   

    As part of the mother’s appeal, the court did not have to decide whether the vaccination was in the child’s best interests as that had not been the issue in dispute.  The primary matter before the court was whether the court had the jurisdiction to make such an order.

    Vaccination and other medical issues can be extremely complex areas of dispute between parents, requiring experienced family lawyers to assist and provide advice.  

    Should you have any questions or would like further information about this or any other family law parenting issue, our experienced lawyers are here to assist.  Please call 07 4632 8484 today to discuss.

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