Covid has presented many challenges to parenting. Photo / NZME

OPINION:

Covid-19 has strained many family relationships over the past two years. When split across different countries, homes and even different views, the pressure to make tough decisions presents unique challenges.

Vaccinations

This topic is a particularly difficult one, especially where children are involved. We have seen many break ups and stresses due to different views on the vaccine. Children are put under pressure when parents have formed differing views as to whether the children should have the vaccine or not.

Whether a child is vaccinated against any illness is a joint guardianship decision and must be made jointly between guardians. A parent cannot unilaterally decide to vaccinate their child when the other parent has said that they do not consent.

With any guardianship dispute, the first step for many of these disagreements is to resolve the matter informally through agreement and mediation. A last resort is to apply to the Family Court for an Order to Settle a Dispute Between Guardians, which involves significant time and money.

Children’s views

Children’s views have been put under the spotlight on this matter. In matters that affect the child, the Family Court must give that child an opportunity to be heard. As children get older and develop in maturity their views will be given more weight. In doing so, the Court will consider whether the children truly hold their views and understand the consequences of their decisions.

The Court has taken children’s views into account in a number of Covid-19 related cases. An interesting consideration in a recent Bay of Plenty case involved a guardianship dispute on Covid-19 vaccinations. The judge ruled that the child should be free to be exposed to a plurality of views so he can make his own decision about which values and beliefs he chooses to live by.

Continue reading this article on the NZ Herald.