Citing several recent cases, Ontario family lawyer Russell Alexander warned that parents who have not received the coronavirus vaccine may be at risk of losing custody or other access to their children.
In one notable recent case, a judge ruled during an unrelated child support hearing that an unvaccinated woman in Chicago could not maintain custody of her 11-year-old son until she had gotten the vaccine, although he later rescinded the decision.
“Judges can consider public health protocols and established medical science when making their decisions, and vaccinations fall squarely in that territory,” said Alexander, founder of the Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers which has offices throughout Ontario. “If you are declining to get the coronavirus vaccine, you’re taking a risk that a judge may rule against you.” Alexander said that there are exceptions, such as when a parent has had adverse reactions to vaccines in the past, but he said those people should get ahead of any potential legal trouble by getting a note from their doctor and being able to document their reasons should it come up in a legal hearing.
He added that vaccinations could also affect inter-provincial and international travel, as travelers are increasingly being asked to show proof of vaccination; work, as many federally regulated industries and some colleges are requiring vaccination; and entertainment, as theaters and professional sports groups are considering vaccination requirements.
“A parent who is disregarding the advice of the family doctor to get vaccinated and has lost a job and the ability to travel or take part in routine activities is going to get questioned very seriously by a judge about their reasoning,” said Alexander. “Unless you have a good reason, you’re going to be putting yourself at serious risk of losing time with your child.”