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Tarkowski v Lemieux, 2020 ONCJ 280, — Custody and COVID-19 Vaccine

Tarkowski v Lemieux, 2020 ONCJ 280, — Custody and COVID-19 Vaccine

Child Custody and COVID-19 Vaccine

Being subjected to working from home for the last five months or more may be leading some people to wonder if this is the “new normal” in terms of their way of life and, if it is, will it still be the same when or if a vaccine is determined?

The widely debated premise of vaccinating your children will come into play if a vaccine is discovered for COVID-19. This topic is frequently brought up in divorce and family law cases where separated parents disagree with the decisions. Parents who are in this position and have joint custody have an integral role in determining the best plan for a child’s medical care, but when it comes to vaccines, it’s only a “yes” or “no” decision. Usually, parents have a very strong response to either option and if there is a difference in opinion then a lawyer, mediator and the courts are called to assist.

A recent case discusses a situation with a highly conflicting custody matter over two parents and their 6-year-old daughter. In Tarkowski v Lemieux Justice Jones found that the mother delayed getting the child vaccinated. The father’s concern is that since the mother is openly against vaccinations and only took the child to get vaccinated as a result of a court order, there might be a chance for the same situation to occur again. He did not want this mentality to pose a threat to the child’s medical needs.

Justice Jones ordered that should a COVID-19 vaccine be created, the parents will have to decide whether or not the child gets vaccinated. Although Justice Jones ordered the mother has sole custody, Jones also ordered that,

“When and if such a vaccine becomes available, both parents should meet with [the
child’s] doctor to discuss vaccination of [the child] against COVID-19. In the event that the mother refuses to attend this meeting with the father and the doctor, or, at the meeting, refuses to consent to the child being vaccinated, I am granting the father, as an incident of custody and access, the unilateral power to consent to [the child] being vaccinated against COVID-19.”

It is interesting and important to note as the mother was ordered to have custody over the balance of the issues. Cases such as these will certainly become more common as science moves closer towards the development of a global vaccine.

See link here for more information and full-court case description.