NYC judge blocks father from visiting daughter in custody dispute pending vaccination

A Manhattan matrimonial judge has suspended a Long Island father’s visitation right with his 3-year-old daughter unless he either gets vaccinated or submits to a weekly COVID-19 test.

“Here, in-person parental access by defendant is not in the child’s best interests, and there are exceptional circumstances that support its suspension,” wrote Justice Matthew Cooper, who is presiding over the pair’s divorce and custody dispute. “The dangers of voluntarily remaining unvaccinated during access with a child while the COVID-19 virus remains a threat to children’s health and safety cannot be understated,” the jurist said in the Oct. 7 decision, which withheld the parties’ names.

The ruling requires the father to either get the jab or present a weekly PCR test in addition to a biweekly antigen test within 24 hours of a scheduled visit, which currently takes place every other weekend. “Unfortunately, and to my mind, incomprehensibly, a sizable minority, seizing upon misinformation, conspiracy theories, and muddled notions of ‘individual liberty,’ have refused all entreaties to be vaccinated,” argued the judge.

Evan Schein, the attorney representing the mother, praised the ruling. “It’s an incredibly important one that highlights the extraordinary times we are living in and reinforces that a child’s best interests are paramount,” Schein told the New York Post.

But Lloyd Rosen, the father’s attorney, believes Cooper is setting a dangerous and precedent. “My client is not a conspiracy theorist,” Rosen said. “He has concerns about the vaccine. He’s heard about side effects. He once had a bad reaction to a flu vaccine.” The father has previously been infected with COVID-19 and Rosen believes he has an immunity that may protect him as well as a vaccine.

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