Child custody: 12-year-old's baptism violated divorce terms

Posted By Michael R. Varble & Associates, P.C. || 11-May-2012

Child custody issues can continue long after divorce papers have been signed. That is as true in Poughkeepsie and throughout New York as it is just about any other place in the country.

Married couples do not always agree on what is best for their children, even in circumstances where there is no intention of seeking a divorce. It stands to reason, then, that those who have decided to end their marriage may be tempted to stand up more vigorously for viewpoints that they might have felt capable of compromising on while together.

Religious issues often are central to child custody disputes. Most divorce agreements specifically discuss what is to happen concerning religious upbringing in the years that follow a divorce.

One couple already divorced is back in court fighting over that very issue. The dispute has resulted in the mother being found to be in contempt of court. She even spent a day in jail.

To hear the mother tell it, her 12-year-old boy decided he wanted to be baptized in the Baptist church. Both parents attended the ceremony, but the father subsequently complained to the court that his ex-wife had violated their divorce agreement which specifically said that decisions about religious upbringing were to be jointly decided.

Ultimately the judge in this Tennessee case decided this wasn't an issue of religious upbringing or even the boy's desire to make his own decisions. Rather, the court reasoned the dispute was a contract issue.

In essence, the judge asked whether the mother violated the written "Permanent Parenting Plan" that was part of the divorce judgment? That agreement requires the parents make decisions about such things as religious upbringing jointly, or if they cannot agree, with the help of a mediator. In the end, the judge held that the mother violated the terms of the parenting plan and charged her with contempt of court.

New York readers who wonder if that will be the end of the matter may be interested to know that the mother's attorney has vowed an appeal. The father has declined comment saying he because he did not believe doing so is in the best interests of the children.

Source: The Tennessean, "Knoxville woman charged after having son baptized," Jennifer Meckles, May 3, 2012

Categories: Child Custody

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