The availability of vaccines following the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked lots of discussion. Discussions are being had within separated families where one parent may not agree to vaccinate their kids. Despite high vaccination rates, there is still some hesitancy around vaccines.
From 10 January 2022, vaccines have been available for every Australian over the age of 5 years. In some separated families, this has led to disputes where parents can’t agree whether to have their kids vaccinated.
We don’t have an opinion on whether you should or should not vaccinate your children against the virus. However, we can help you to understand how the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia is approaching the vaccination of children.
The matter of Covington v Covington (2021) FamCAFC 52, affirmed that the Court may make any parenting order it considers appropriate in the circumstances and in the best interests of the child. In this particular case, the mother was opposed to vaccinating her child and relied on an argument that s 51(xxiiiA) of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1977 includes a freedom from any compulsory vaccination.
The Court ultimately decided that the mother’s argument had no merit and as such, made an order that the child should be vaccinated.
Also, in the case of Makinen & Taube  FCCA 1878, the parents in the matter were separated and the children lived with the mother. The father wished to have the children vaccinated following advice from their family doctor whilst the mother believed that the children would face greater harm from possible adverse effects of the vaccine than actually contracting the virus itself.
As the parties could not reach an agreement, the father sought orders to be given sole responsibility in relation to the children’s vaccinations, and in turn, the mother sought an injunctive order to restrain the father from vaccinating the children.
The Court exercised its discretion and made orders to allocate the father with parental responsibility in respect of all decisions relating to the children’s immunisations and vaccinations. These orders allowed the father to administer any vaccinations in future that are recommended by their family doctor and restrained the mother from voicing any opinions or advice contrary to the family doctor’s recommendations.
How O’Loan Family Law Can Help
At O’Loan Family Law, we view court as a last resort in most circumstances and aim to always help you reach an agreement as soon as possible to avoid legal costs and stress.
However, litigation can’t always be avoided, and in these particular circumstances, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia does not have one simple view that all children should be vaccinated. The Court exercises its own discretion on a case-by-case basis.
If you find yourself in a dispute with your ex about vaccinations, remember that Family Law is our thing and we are confident that we can help you achieve a desirable outcome, that is in the best interests of your kids.
So, if you and your ex are struggling to come to an agreement about the vaccination status of your kids and would like some advice, please contact us. We offer an initial 15-minute complimentary call with a solicitor so that you can discuss your options moving forward.
We can advise and guide you to find the right resolution pathway for you and your family. O’Loan Family Law offers specialist family law advice, conveniently located in Lavender Bay on Sydney’s North Shore. We help separating families find amicable solutions that consider your unique situation so you can move on with your life. Our fixed and value pricing service offerings include collaborative practice, assisted DIY separation and what we like to call, the traditional family law pathway. We’ve got your back.
About the Author
Bron O’Loan is the Founder & Director of O’Loan Family Law and is an expert family lawyer and independent children’s lawyer. Bron has worked in Family Law since 2015 and is an experienced litigator and skilful negotiator in all family law matters. She is also an experienced speaker and best selling author of The Splits – How to help your kids navigate separation and divorce.
Connect with Bron on LinkedIn: Bron O’Loan | LinkedIn
This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.