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What happens when divorced parents disagree over vaccination?

Under Michigan law, children must be vaccinated in order to enroll in school and other group activities. However, parents have the option not to vaccinate their child if they have religious, medical or personal objections to such immunizations. But what happens when parents disagree over whether to vaccinate?

In a recent case, a Michigan mother was jailed for five days after failing to comply with a court order to have her son vaccinated. The mother—a fervent “anti-vaxxer”—believes vaccinations pose health risks to children that outweigh their benefits. The father in the case disagrees.

When the mother was released from jail, she learned that her ex-husband had vaccinated their son while she was in custody. In addition, the previous child custody arrangement—which had awarded her primary custody and her former spouse only visitation rights—was changed to a 50/50 shared custody split.

So what happens when divorced parents can’t agree on whether to vaccinate? A judge will make the decision for them, based on what is considered to be in the best interest of the child. And in Michigan, the court seems to be ruling in favor of vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Medicine both all defend the evidence that vaccinations have been extremely effective at eradicating diseases that previously led to disablement or death. In a recent case brought before the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Court ruled that there was no substantive evidence to suggest that vaccinations are unsafe.

It will be interesting to see whether this case leads to a different outcome.

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What happens when divorced parents disagree over vaccination? | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC