When separated parents disagree on medical issues

What happens if parents cannot agree on medical issues, particularly vaccinations? This topic is particularly contentious and one which has just found itself being decided upon in Court.

In Re B (A Child: Immunisation) 2018, a five year old girl had always received the recommended vaccinations until her parents separated. Upon separation, the parents could not agree on a number of issues, including vaccinations, so the mother made an application for a Specific Issue Order for her to have three vaccinations, which at the time of application, were overdue.

The father objected to the application and a guardian was appointed to represent the child. The guardian agreed with the mother. A medical expert was also appointed by the parties to report on each of the vaccinations and their ultimate effect.

The Court found that it was proportionate and in the child’s best interests to be vaccinated, placing particular importance on the consideration of any risk of harm that the child had suffered, or was at risk of suffering, ultimately finding that she would not be exposed to any risk.

The Court further found that the father’s views, having based those views on his own research, were unreliable and biased and did not correspond with the expert evidence provided at Court.

The Court acknowledged that new risks may be identified in the future with continuing research, and was, therefore, basing its final findings on the evidence before it at the time of the decision.

There is no standard answer in cases such as this. Each case will be determined on its own merits and individual circumstances, the research presented at that time and a methodical assessment of the child’s best interests.

Carol Robinson is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk