Unvaccinated Father Loses Right to See 12-Year-Old Son After Judge Ruling

A judge in Canada has suspended a man's right to see his 12-year-old son because he isn't vaccinated against COVID.

The man had asked to extend his visiting time with his child over the holidays. But the child's mother, who has custody, opposed the request saying she had recently discovered the father wasn't vaccinated.

Judge Jean-Sébastien Vaillancourt ruled said it wouldn't be in the child's best interests to have contact with their father considering the surge in COVID cases in the French-speaking province of Quebec.

In a December 23 decision, he suspended the man's visitation rights until February, unless he gets vaccinated.

He was cited in the judgement as having reservations about the vaccine, and the child's mother produced evidence from his social media accounts to show he was opposed to both vaccines and the government's health measures.

The judge's decision described the man as a "conspiracy theorist," based on evidence from his Facebook page, and noted that he didn't explain why he had reservations about getting vaccinated.

"It would normally have been in the child's best interests to have contact with his father, but it is not in his best interest to have contact with him if he is not vaccinated and is opposed to health measures in the current epidemiological context," the judge wrote in the ruling.

The judge's noted that the child had received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, but said that wasn't enough to allow access to the father.

Another factor that cemented the judge's decision was that the mother lives with her husband and two other children, a seven-month-old and a four-year-old. Those children aren't vaccinated as COVID vaccines aren't currently offered to children under five in Quebec.

"In these circumstances, it is not in the best interests of any of the three children" for the father to spend time with his son, the judge wrote.

First Ruling of Its Kind

The judgement is the first that deprives a parent visitation rights on vaccination grounds, according to a family law expert.

Disputes involving children in Quebec are usually decided based on the child's best interests, the expert told Le Devoir newspaper.

It comes as Quebec's premier announced this week that adult residents who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID will be charged a financial penalty.

The tax will apply to all adults in Quebec who don't get their first dose of a COVID vaccine "in the next few weeks," Premier Francois Legault said, during a press conference on Tuesday.

Legault said about 10 percent of adults in Quebec aren't vaccinated, and they make up about half of intensive care patients.

Quebec's residents have also been under a nightly curfew since December 31.

The curfew, in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., was reimposed for an indefinite period in response to a surge in cases driven by Omicron.

A child waits after receiving vaccine
A child, age 11, waits after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children in Montreal, Quebec, on November 24, 2021. Andrej Ivanov/AFP via Getty Images