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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
The topic of vaccinating young children has been in wide discussion for parents, the Government, and chief medical officers.
Recently the Government has accepted the recommendation from the UK’s medical officers that children between the ages of 12 to 15 should be offered a first dose of the BioNTeach/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It has been confirmed that invitations will start to be sent out in England next week. It is expected that the vaccine will be administered in schools.
This may mean your child is now eligible for the vaccination. This could be something you agree with or on the other hand you may feel you do not want your child vaccinated.
The consent of parents, guardian and carers will be sought prior to the vaccination, but it is believed that the child will get the final say over whether or not to get vaccinated (if your child is considered competent).
If you are unable to agree with your partner/ex-partner or child what does this mean for you?
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth.
A father usually has parental responsibility if he is either married to the child’s mother or listed on the birth certificate. You can apply for parental responsibility if you do not automatically have it.
As parents of a child (if the above applies), you both share parental responsibility in respect of the child. Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property. This is the right to make decisions about your child’s welfare such as decisions about medical treatment and education.
If as parents, you are unable to agree on whether your child should be vaccinated then it will be necessary to ask the Court to decide whether or not your child should be vaccinated. If there is no agreement, a parent legally cannot make this decision without the consent of the other.
First, you would need to issue an application for a Specific Issue Order. This is something Brethertons LLP can assist you with.
Specific Issue Order
A Specific Issue Order is an Order which deals with a specific contested issue. For example, in this instance, it can be used if there is a dispute between parents as to whether a child should receive certain medical treatment i.e vaccination.
In deciding on the specific issue of vaccinating your child, the court will consider the welfare checklist. The child’s welfare will be the Court’s paramount consideration.
The welfare checklist, includes the following: -
a) The wishes and feelings of a child concerned in light of their age, understanding and majority;
b) The physical, emotional and educational needs of the child;
c) The likely effect on the child of any change of circumstances;
d) The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of which the Court considers relevant;
e) Any harm that the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
f) How capable are each of the parents or any other person in relation to the Court considers the question to be relevant, in meeting their needs,
g) The range of powers available to the Court.
If you are unable to reach an agreement in respect of your child being vaccinated, we want to assist you. We will always aim to achieve the most satisfactory outcome that is possible. We will continue to advise you throughout the court proceedings.
The Children and Domestic Abuse team here at Brethertons LLP are here to answer any questions that you may have.
Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01788 579579 or 01295 270999 or at firstname.lastname@example.org