A New York City judge bars a father from seeing his daughter unless he decides to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Justice Matthew Cooper issued a vaccine mandate for the father from Long Island so he could see his 3-year-old daughter. If he doesn't comply with the order, he can submit to a COVID-19 PCR test every week.
In the custody ruling for the divorced parents, Judge Cooper wrote that a decision was made to suspend the father's visitation rights due to "exceptional circumstances" of the pandemic. He believed that the choice to remain unvaccinated is "not in the child's best interest," especially if the girl sees her father in person regularly. The names of the parents involved in the custody case were not released to the press.
In addition to either getting vaccinated or testing for COVID-19 every week, the father may be required to undergo a biweekly antigen test 24 hours before he sees his daughter. According to the New York Post, the judge is quite high-profile and had ruled on the custody cases of Uma Thurman, Robert De Niro, and Lamar Odom.
Dad Has COVID-19 Immunity
However, the father's lawyers said that the judge's decision was unjustified since their client has natural immunity from the COVID-19 virus as he had the infection early this year. Lawyer Llyod Rosen said that his client still chose not to get vaccinated because of the side effects.
Rosen also clarified that the father is not a conspiracy theorist and is still waiting on more reliable data about the vaccine, despite the judge's ruling. He previously had a bad experience with the flu vaccine, thus highlighting his concerns about this particular vaccination.
The judge told the lawyer that his client must present medical proof of his natural immunity from a doctor. However, the father instead cited his freedom and religious beliefs to justify his refusal of getting the vaccine.
Following the ex-couple's divorce in 2019, the custody fight between the two parents had been intense in court. Cooper underscored that the father has a history of substance abuse and hasn't received any treatment for his mental health issues. His visits to his daughter had to be supervised to ensure the child's wellbeing.
In early September, the mother's lawyers raised concerns with the court about the unvaccinated father, prompting Cooper to uphold the vaccination mandate in New York for many workers. After a couple of weeks, the mother told the court that she would let her daughter see his father if he got the weekly COVID-19 test.
The father, however, didn't want to comply with the vaccination nor the test and asked for a full hearing in court. Cooper denied this request, citing the child's best interest.
For now, the father is still mulling if he should appeal the decision or not. According to NBC New York, a temporary restraining order was issued against the father, but he can see his daughter virtually or talk to her on the phone.
Same Case with Texas Dad
In Liberty County, Texas, a dad is also fighting to see his four children, ages six to 11 years old, after receiving a vaccine mandate from the court. Like the dad from Long Island, Chris Staley refused to get vaccinated because of the potential side effects five years down the line.
Staley's lawyers advised him to comply with the vaccine mandate because his visitation rights would be affected. When Staley refused, his lawyer quit the case. The father said he's trying to get in touch with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss the vaccine mandate as there is an existing rule from the governor prohibiting such orders.
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