Chicago Judge Revoke's Mother's Custody of Son Until She Gets COVID-19 Vaccine

A judge in Chicago has stripped visitation rights from an 11-year-old boy’s mother because she has not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Covid vaccine

Photo by Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Covid vaccine

A judge in Chicago has revoked a mother’s custody of her 11-year-old son because she has not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Rebecca Firlit, a divorced 39-year-old who’s shared joint custody with her ex-husband for the past seven years, has had her child visitation rights taken away by Cook County judge James Shapiro because she isn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Firlit received the news during a child support hearing earlier this month. Appearing alongside her ex-husband in virtual court, Shapiro reportedly asked her whether she had been vaccinated. Firlit told Shapiro she had not because she has had bad reactions to vaccines in the past.

“One of the first things he asked me when I got on the Zoom call was whether or not I was vaccinated, which threw me off because I asked him what it had to do with the hearing,” Firlit told the Sun-Times. “I was confused because it was just supposed to be about expenses and child support. 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.’”

Shapiro then ruled that Firlit could not see her 11-year-old son until she received the shot.

“It had nothing to do with what we were talking about,” Firlit said. “He was placing his views on me. And taking my son away from me.”

Despite the adversity, Firlit believes she will prevail: “I feel like this will resonate with people because this is how things will go if we don’t speak up,” she said. “Dividing families, taking children from their parents, we have to speak out to make sure this is not the new thing. Unfortunately, I had to be the first person that this happened to, but parents aren’t going to stand for that.”

Meanwhile, Firlit’s attorney, Annette Fernholz, claims Shapiro’s decision exceeds his judicial authority.

“In this case you have a judge, without any matter before him regarding the parenting time with the child deciding ‘Oh, you’re not vaccinated. You don’t get to see your child until you are vaccinated,” Fernholz explained. “You have to understand the father did not even bring this issue before the court,” she added. “So it’s the judge on his own and making this decision that you can’t see your child until you’re vaccinated.”

Latest in Life