The case of F v F itself involved whether or not an agreement made during marriage was valid; here a father sought to materialise the mother’s agreement during the marriage that both children should have the MMR vaccination.
After separation the mother refused consent to the children being vaccinated. Notably the Cafcass report identified that the children did not want the vaccination.
The case itself was decided upon the specific facts of the case, as we assume any case of this nature would be, making a prediction of outcome very difficult in similar cases to come. Of course, as with any matter involving children before the courts, the children’s welfare is ‘paramount’. The court finally held that when considering the specific benefits and risks, the vaccination would be in the best interests of the children. To reach this decision the court put aside the children’s views, declaring that they were overly influenced by the mother, and instead preferred the supporting medical advice that the health benefits outweighed the children’s wishes.
A number of things could therefore be taken from this case. Firstly that, as with all matters concerning children, the courts will consider the child’s welfare to be ‘paramount’. This goes beyond any disagreement between the principles of individual parenting. Secondly there is potentially a wider scope to the ruling of F v F, in which the court will look at the requests by parents to alter medical agreements involving their children on an objective level. The court will weigh its decision heavily on medically recognised opinion, putting aside the ‘mere’ wishes of the children and parent. This appears to be the key aspect of this case, the fact that a court would categorise the children’s wishes as ‘mere’. In matters before the family court the children’s wishes and feelings are always taken into account in light of their age and understanding. It is widely considered that once a child reaches the age of 9/10 their wishes will be of significant weight and often the biggest influence in the final decision. For the children’s wishes to be overridden so completely is unusual and shows a much more objective approach than one might usually find in the family court. It remains to be seen whether a court would override a child’s wishes if they were not so ‘overly influenced by the mother’.
Any family with issues such as this should look to seek legal council in this area. It would be very difficult for anyone to predict an outcome in further cases of this type due to their fact specific nature. However, if any parent wishes to resolve their conflict the best way forwards is to visit your GP and make a decision based on the medical evidence available, any position maintained on your own beliefs is unlikely to succeed in the court. The conflict also puts your child in a difficult position and must be resolved as quickly as possible.
Faye Remnant is part of our Family Law team based in Loughborough; our Solicitors in Loughborough are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Loughborough please contact us.Talk to our legal team
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