Kids of divorce at risk over vaccine litigation
Children in divorce are at risk in vaccine litigation. Attorney Jeffery M. Leving discusses why its an important issue that must be addressed. Leving’s website is www.DadsRights.com.
By Jeffery M. Leving
I appreciate the feeling of powerlessness expressed by parents, especially divorced and separated fathers who want to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19, but who are encountering resistance from their ex-spouse.
Many divorce decrees or custody arrangements have some degree of shared parenting, and in certain instances, decision-making for the child’s medical care may be ordered by the court.
In real life, the pro-vaccine parent could duck the kid into Walgreens and get him vaccinated, circumventing a court order signed by a judge, based on the advice of an expert witness or the child’s treating physician.
But as a lawyer concentrating my practice in family law for four decades, I have not advised such action, Leving said.
“First, if it violates the divorce decree or custody arrangement, or violates the decision-making provisions of a joint parenting agreement, it may very well need to be addressed through mediation or the courts,” says Maureen A. Gorman, a matrimonial attorney at my firm. It has been an uphill climb to get society and the courts to recognize divorced dads as equal parents. I’d hate to backslide and see decades of my legislative reforms resulting in new laws and social justice eroded in these post-pandemic times.
Second, if the child is surreptitiously vaccinated, the other parent may have a change of mind and get the child vaccinated too, with the child’s doctor completely out of the loop. This could be harmful.
Another problem is where children are too young to be vaccinated and one or both parents refuse to be vaccinated, which some believe creates a risk. In one such high profile case where I represented the father, the mother refused to get vaccinated, and the judge suspended her parenting time with her son until she demonstrated sufficient proof to the court or the guardian ad litem of her vaccination against COVID-19. On a subsequent court date, the judge vacated his order, and the case continues.
I hate to see acrimony between divorced or separated parents. It’s no good for the kids, or anybody else. But if the parents won’t budge, the matter may need to end up in mediation or litigation, as Maureen Gorman states as frustrating as that can be. In a civilized society, sometimes it is necessary to resolve disputes in court, especially if a child could be at risk.
Jeffery M. Leving is founder and president of the Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving Ltd.,and is a Matrimonial Attorney. He is the author of Fathers’ Rights, Divorce Wars and How to be a Good Divorced Dad, the latter of which was endorsed by President Obama and by Cardinal Francis E. George, then the archbishop of Chicago. To learn more about Leving’s latest court victories, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.