Citing several recent cases, Ontario family lawyer Russell Alexander issued a new warning that parents who have not received the coronavirus vaccine or are not up to date on their vaccinations for Covid-19 may be at risk of losing custody or other access to their children.
In one notable recent case, a judge in New Brunswick ruled in favor of a mother while the unvaccinated father lost custody of his children, including his immunocompromised 10-year-old. Justice Nathalie Godbout said it was necessary for the child’s health and ruled the mother could vaccinate the children without the father’s consent. A similar outcome was ordered in Alberta and Ontario.
“Judges are continuing to make decisions about who gets custody of the children based on whether the parents are vaccinated because they feel having parents protected from Covid is in the best interest of the children,” said Alexander, founder of the Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers which has offices throughout Ontario. “No matter your parental involvement, by refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine you’re taking a risk that a judge may rule against you in a custody case”
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 travel, as some 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.=
“Unvaccinated parents are putting themselves in serious risk of losing time with their children, unless they are eligible for exemptions,” said Alexander. “A parent who is not following the medical advice of their family doctor and putting their children at risk unnecessarily, is going to be questioned by a judge for their reasoning and face potentially grave impacts on their child custody case.”