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Michigan Judge Who Stripped Mother's Custody Over Her Vaccine Status Just Issued a New Order

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool

A Michigan mother went into a virtual court hearing with her ex-husband prepared to discuss child support and other expenses but left with custody of her son revoked—all because she is unvaccinated.

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According to Rebecca Firlit, the judge jumped right into asking her vaccination status earlier this month, even though her attorney, Annette Fernholz, said it’s not an issue the father even brought before the court. 

“So it’s the judge on his own and making this decision that you can’t see your child until you’re vaccinated,” Fernholz told The Washington Post.

Firlit told the judge her reason for not getting the Covid-19 vaccine is because she’s had “adverse reactions to vaccines in the past” and she was advised by her doctor against getting the shot. “It poses a risk,” she said.

Regardless of the medical advice given to Firlit, Cook County Judge James Shapiro then said she would not be allowed to see her 11-year-old until she got it. 

[T]he judge’s ruling in Chicago appears to be the first of its kind. Firlit and her ex-husband, Matthew Duiven, have been divorced for seven years, according to WFLD. Court documents show they have had shared custody of their 11-year-old son since June 2014.

Neither Firlit nor Duiven immediately responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment late Sunday.

The hearing on Aug. 10 had nothing to do with revising the custody agreement, Firlit’s lawyer said, so no one was expecting the judge to ask the boy’s mother if she was vaccinated. Firlit said she was befuddled by the judge’s question.

“I was confused because it was just supposed to be about expenses and child support,” she told the Sun-Times. “I asked him what it had to do with the hearing, and he said, ‘I am the judge, and I make the decisions for your case.’ ” 

The judgethenrevoked her custody of her son until she was fully inoculated. Firlit did not indicate if she would get vaccinated, but she said she is trying to appeal the decision because she believes the judge overstepped his authority. She added that taking a son away from his mother is “wrong.”

“I think that it’s dividing families,” Firlit told WFLD. “And I think it’s not in my son’s best interest to be away from his mother.” (WaPo)

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Update: On Monday, Firlit's attorney said the judge reversed his decision.

"Judge Shapiro just issued an order vacating portions of his prior order of August 11th so Rebecca Firlit can see her son again," Fernholz told FOX 32 Chicago.

"I miss my son more than anything. It's been very difficult. I haven't seen him since August 10th," Firlit said. "I think it’s not in my son's best interest to be away from his mother."

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