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Child custody dispute over vaccination order

When parents divorce, they often have many crucial decisions to make about the future of their children. More often, parents can arrive at those decisions without the need for litigation or protracted courtroom battles. Nevertheless, even child custody decisions made outside a Tennessee courtroom need approval of a judge to be legally binding. One mother in another state recently lost many custody rights after violating such a court order.

Determining how the child will practice religion, where the child will attend school and when the child will see a doctor are all decisions parents may make gradually as the child grows. However, when legal custody is settled, many of those questions must be addressed ahead of time. The mother in this case had primary custody of their 9-year-old son, but she and her ex-husband had made many decisions about the best interests of their child.

Apparently, one choice they made was to have the child vaccinated. In some states, including Tennessee, parents may file for an exemption from vaccinations for religious reasons. The mother did not claim that exemption, and she and her attorney signed an order conceding to having the boy vaccinated. Nevertheless, when the time came for the child's shots, the mother did not fulfill the order. The judge in the case revoked the mother's primary custody and awarded joint custody to the father.

Although the mother apparently disagreed with the vaccination ruling from the beginning, she did not file an appeal or ask the court to set the order aside. These are options for parents who disapprove of any child custody orders. However, taking these steps is complicated, and the assistance of an experienced attorney may be most beneficial.

Source: CBS Detroit, "Reduced Child Custody Rights For Mom Who Refused To Vaccinate Child", Oct. 12, 2017

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