IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — A Michigan judge has issued a court order requiring that a father and others in his home be fully vaccinated before the man can see his 6-year-old son.
The order, issued in Ionia County, includes a vaccination requirement for Roy Fowler, who is the boy’s father, and anyone around the child, excluding those not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine or those with a documented medical exemption.
“All parenting time between the defendant and the minor child that takes place in the defendant’s home shall only occur in the home if everyone in the home, including but not limited to, the defendant, the defendant’s wife, or anyone else staying in the home or visiting the home who is lawfully allowed to be vaccinated against the Coronavirus and any of its variants are, in fact, fully vaccinated,” stated the Jan 20. order signed by Circuit Judge Suzanne Kreeger.
According to court documents, the 6-year-old has a rare genetic disorder that compromises his immune system, making him especially vulnerable to COVID-19. After contracting the virus in early 2021, the boy was hospitalized for two weeks.
After his release, his mother filed a motion to modify parenting time, and, according to court documents, “testified to her concerns about defendant’s (the father’s) attitude towards COVID-19 protocols, which she feels puts the child at risk.”
The court explained its reason for ruling on the matter in an earlier order issued in September 2021.
“While reasonable minds may differ on the subject of covid-19 realities, including vaccinations, the child’s extraordinary health concerns make this issue particularly relevant to the parent time issue,” the order stated.
Fowler told WOOD-TV he hasn’t seen his son in over a year. Court documents note he was offered limited outdoor parenting time, which he declined.
“He pretty much (has) lived his life like he’s done every other day, except … couldn’t see me because it wasn’t safe,” Fowler said.
Fowler was vaccinated in September following the court’s recommendation for him to do so. But Fowler’s wife, the child’s stepmother, remains unvaccinated.
“I have to either exercise parenting time somewhere else or she has to leave (the house),” Fowler said.
Ionia-based attorney Eric Matwiejczyk is representing Fowler in the case and recently filed a claim to appeal the January 2022 order. Matwiejczyk said he’s never heard of a judge making such a ruling.
“I think the judge was feeling from the heart and not looking at the law,” Matwiejczyk said. “We don’t think that it will withstand judicial review.”
Court administrator Selina Schmidt said it would not be proper for Kreeger to comment on an ongoing case.
The child’s mother also declined comment to WOOD-TV.