Immunizations and Divorce

New York State recently passed a new law, whereby children must be vaccinated against measles and other diseases to attend public or private school. The only exception, that would allow a child not be vaccinated and to attend public/private school, is if there is a valid medical exemption. Before the new law was passed, New York State recognized religious exemptions to the mandate that children must be vaccinated.

The change in the law will also affect child custody issues in a divorce (and in non-divorces where child custody is an issue). There are already examples where one parent wants to have their children vaccinated and the other parent does not want to vaccinate. Courts will now have to consider the issue of immunizations as it relates to child custody. Furthermore, lawyers will need to consider how immunizations are to be handled in their divorce agreements.

WHAT DOES THE NEW LAW SAY NOW?

As stated above, as of June 13, 2019, there is no longer a religious exemption to the requirement that children be vaccinated against many diseases in order to attend either: (1) public, private or parochial school (for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) or (2) child daycare settings.

Although, the new law is being challenged, in the past, the United States Supreme Court has stated that a State can mandate that children are vaccinated in order to attend public school. To date, New York Courts have also agreed with the United States Supreme Court. In addition, New York Public Health Law § 2164 obligates parents to have their children vaccinated against diseases, and New York Education Law § 914 obligates schools to enforce and comply with the aforementioned statute.

Accordingly, as of now, it is constitutional for New York State to require that you vaccinate your child in order for that child to attend public/private school.

HOW WILL THIS EFFECT CUSTODY?

A Court or a Judge cannot force a parent to vaccinate their child. However, by granting custody to a parent that either want to vaccinate the child or to a parent that does not want to vaccinate the child, the Court is essentially deciding if the child will be vaccinated.

As always, a Court/Judge will decide custody on the basis of the “best interests of a child” test. One of those factors may be if a parent wants to vaccinate their child. Many judges would probably agree that vaccinating a child is safer for both the child and the general welfare of the community. However, that would be just one factor in the Court’s decision.
Clearly, the decision to vaccinate your child is a personal one. As it relates to a divorce or child custody, parents may have legitimate differences on whether or not to vaccinate a child. With the new New York State law, when considering child custody issues, Courts and Judges may find themselves having to consider this issue.

If you are u are considering getting a divorce or have a child custody issue, then contact David Badanes, Esq. and the Badanes Law Office, P.C.

Contact David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. today at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com or visit us on Facebook to get important legal news, tips and articles: www.facebook.com/BadanesLawOffice.

By David P. Badanes, Esq. and Hayley Hayden