Vaccinations and Family Conflict

Government announces mandatory vaccination for healthcare and education workers
October 18, 2021
Ben Anderson
December 21, 2021
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To vax or not to vax? This is the question! Presently the cause of great debate – and dispute.

Vaccination has understandably been a hot topic for our employment law colleagues in recent times. We’re now beginning to see it emerging more and more frequently as an area of conflict in the family law field as well.

Let’s take a look at this recently published article from the NZ Herald (link below).

We can see that the perspective on consent is different depending on whether you are looking through a family law or a medical/health lens. So – what should parents do when they disagree on whether or not to vaccinate their child/children?

Children aged 16 and over can make their own decisions on medical care. They can give consent, or refuse treatment.

But what about children under 16? The child’s parents need to make the decision for them.

From a family law perspective, the issue of vaccination is a guardianship decision for both parents, not only that of the day to day carer. If the parents don’t agree, the onus will be on the parent in favour of vaccination to make an application to the Family Court to resolve the dispute.

Case law shows that unless the parent against vaccination has a valid (generally medical) reason, then the Court will make a decision in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines/recommendations.

If you are having issues with your child’s other parent in relation to vaccination, don’t hesitate to contact the family law team here at Gaze Burt.

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