Vaccination of children | When parents don’t get along

Parents are not always on the same wavelength when it comes to vaccinating their child. When a disagreement arises, they have two choices: get along or go to court. And according to case law, the parent who refuses the COVID-19 vaccination is unlikely to succeed.

“If someone came to me in my office and said, ‘I don’t want the child to be vaccinated, because I don’t believe in vaccination,’ I would say, ‘You’re going to waste your money and waste the court’s time doing that under current conditions ”. I don’t know under what condition a judge would refuse the COVID vaccination for a child. ”

Me Sylvie Schirm is a family law lawyer. Recently, a woman approached her because her ex-partner refused to vaccinate their child. When the father knew that the mother wanted to address the court, he gave up his fight. His arguments would not have lasted long before a judge.

“A parent who does not want the vaccination will have to prove to the court that it is not in the best interests of their child to get the vaccine,” explains Me Schirm, partner of the firm Schirm & Tremblay Avocats. The evidence, she says, is medical evidence that shows that, for this child specifically, it would be harmful to get the vaccine.

Beliefs, fears or a philosophy of life are not proof.

Sylvie Schirm, partner of the firm Schirm & Tremblay Avocats

It should be noted that below the age of 14, it is the holders of parental authority who make the decisions concerning the vaccination of the child. Parental authority is exercised jointly by both parents, whether they have custody or not.

Sylvie Schirm has spotted four judgments concerning children aged 12 or 13 (who can be vaccinated since the spring). In all four cases, the magistrate authorized the vaccination. According to the lawyer, this case law will also apply for 5 to 11 year olds.

In the most recent decision, rendered on 1is In October, a mother asked the court for permission to vaccinate her 13-year-old boy so he could play basketball at his school. The teenager wanted to be vaccinated, but the father refused, calling the vaccination “experimental”. “The fears of the gentleman are no match for the recommendations of the Public Health of Quebec,” ruled Judge Chantal Lamarche.

In another case, a father asked the court to be able to produce in court the opinion of a controversial American toxicologist who opposes the vaccination of children. Judge Aline Quach refused her request, considering that the expert’s opinion could not be taken seriously. “We cannot produce someone’s theories at court as an expertise”, summarizes Me Sylvie umbrella.

Discussion first

Caroline recently raised the issue of vaccination with the father of her two children.

For Caroline, who asked to be referred to by another name for the sake of her ex-spouse, it is unequivocal: she wants to have her children vaccinated against COVID-19. Her ex is fearful. “He also finds that there are too many restrictions,” she sums up. He is critical of the work as a whole. ”

Caroline says she reframed the discussion on the benefits of vaccination. It was when she spoke about the case law that her ex-spouse consented. “I didn’t tell him in a threatening tone,” she says. He was not angry. We took the time to talk about it. ”

According to the president of the Ordre des psychologues du Québec, Christine Grou, whether the parents are together or separated, maintaining communication remains essential.

The first thing to do, when you don’t get along, is to be careful not to break up the discussion.

Christine Grou, President of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec

And to prevent this from happening, it’s best to chat when you feel calm. “When the tension is too great, we no longer listen to each other talk,” emphasizes the psychologist. When things go wrong, we lose sight of the subject – vaccination – and we fall back into grievances. Not only are we not settling anything, but we are making things worse. ”

Parents can share the information they have about the vaccine, their perception of the situation, their respective fears. “It at least allows us to agree on the fact that we are afraid and that, in both cases, we want the best for the child,” explains Christine Grou, who invites parents to try to understand the arguments of the other and validate their fears.

Parents can also give themselves a few days to reflect and consult sources of information that they have previously selected, she says. When we are unable to speak to each other, Christine Grou advises going to see a mediator, who will be able to temper the emotional load and restore communication.

The consent of a parent

The vaccinator does not require proof that the other parent consents. The Civil Code stipulates that “with regard to third parties in good faith, the father or mother who performs alone an act of authority with regard to the child is presumed to act with the agreement of the other” . “In the event that the vaccinator is informed that the 2 parents differ in opinion, it will be up to the court to make the decision”, we can read in the Quebec Immunization Protocol (PIQ).

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