Bullock v Elliston [2019] NZFC 10254

Published 30 October 2020

Guardianship dispute — immunisation — vaccination — measles — mumps — rubella — MMR vaccine — anti vax — welfare and best interests of child — interim contact arrangements — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 46R & 133 — Lawson v Pugh [2019] NZFC 5092. The parents were in a heated dispute over their young child. This hearing was determine the interim contact arrangements between the child and his mother, pending the substantive proceedings and a final parenting order being made. Also at issue, was whether the child should be given a MMR vaccination (measles, mumps and rubella). The father wanted the child to be immunised in line with the New Zealand Health Department and the World Health Organisation recommendations. He was especially concerned given the outbreak and spread of measles in New Zealand. The mother opposed the child being vaccinated on the basis of articles she had read online and the assertion that some of her family members had had adverse reactions to vaccines. The Judge determined the risks of not being immunised far outweighed the small risk of an adverse reaction. It was in the welfare and best interests of the child that he be vaccinated and an order was made. In regards to interim contact arrangements between the mother and child, there was agreement that contact should be unsupervised. Given the animosity between the parties, the Judge rejected the mother's argument that changeover should occur at her house. Changeovers were to occur in a public place, as agreed between parties. The mother was to have daytime contact during two weekdays each week, as well as on the Sunday every second week. It was important to re-establish the relationship between the mother and child as well as to give the mother the opportunity to show she could behave appropriately while he was in her care. Judgment Date: 11 December 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *