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Can you be thrown in jail for not vaccinating your own child?

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2017 | Family Law |

If you are facing a divorce, you are probably thinking mostly about the need to be separated from your spouse. And for many people, this approach makes sense. If you’re in an unworkable marriage, divorce might be the best option, and it makes sense that life apart from your spouse would be your primary consideration.

However, there are many issues that stem from divorce that you need to consider. One important thing that many people don’t realize is the degree of authority a court can take over your life and your responsibility as a parent. Now, this isn’t necessarily a reason to not get divorced if that’s the best thing for your life, but it is important to be aware of the possibilities so that you can plan ahead and be ready to get the best arrangement possible in your divorce or separation.

A Recent Case in Michigan: Woman Jailed for Refusing to Vaccinate Her Child

According to a report from Detroit Free Press, a Michigan woman was jailed for five days for refusing to give her child court-ordered medical vaccinations. According to the report, it appears that the child’s mother and father have been in court disputing these issues a number of times in the past. The mother and father, divorced, disagree on whether or not the child should have these vaccinations.

In a previous disagreement, the court ordered the mother to follow the pediatrician’s advice, which turned out to be in favor of vaccinations (though the mother disputes whether this order was official, as it took places in the judge’s chambers and there is no record of it).

Most recently, the mother was put in jail for five days on contempt of court charges for refusing the vaccinations.

What This Means for You

It is surprising to a lot of people to think about the degree of authority the court can take over their responsibilities and free choice as parents. Although this type of judicial oversight is apparently legal, it is a significant challenge for many parents.

The most important thing you can do is recognize the risks involved when entering into divorce, and doing everything possible to maintain your parental control.

How You Can Protect Your Rights as a Parent

There are a couple things you can do to protect your rights as a parent:

Work with a great attorney you can trust. There is no single more important step you can take other than securing sound legal counsel. A good lawyer will understand your concerns and work with you at every step of your case to make sure your rights are protected.

Make a sound plan.It is important to work out in advance, with your lawyer, the child custody issues and other aspects of your divorce that are most important to you so you can make a plan to protect your rights as a parent.

Use mediation. In the traditional divorce court process, a judge is much more likely to assume control over aspects of your divorce you can’t resolve with your ex-spouse. With mediation, you can make sure you come to sound agreements on all of these matters over which you don’t want the judge to take control.

Although there is some significant risk involved with losing some of your parental oversight, with knowledge and proper planning, you can protect your rights and your child.