Religious upbringing is often an issue in child custody

A mother was recently sentenced to jail for allowing her son to be baptized without his father’s prior consent. The parties addressed child custody in their divorce through a joint agreement referred to as their “Permanent Parenting Plan.” The wording in the agreement was very specific in explaining how both parents must work out agreements concerning their child’s religious upbringing or otherwise resort to a mediator. Divorced parents in Arizona may find themselves surrounded by similar circumstances if they are not careful to adhere to the terms laid out in a divorce decree.

The dispute between the two parents led them to a Tennessee courtroom, and eventually led the mother to a day in jail. According to the mother’s attorney, her 12-year-old son decided to be baptized in a Baptist church, and both parents attended the baptism. The boy’s father argues that the decision should have been made jointly with his mother prior to the baptism.

The mother’s attorney pointed out that if the young child was at an age to decide which parent he lived with, he should be able to make religious decisions. The judge’s ruling pointed out that the case had nothing to do with religion. It was a case dealing with whether or not the two parents had held true to the terms of their contract.

The judge found that the mother had not adhered to the plan and was found in contempt of court, resulting in one day in jail. The young boy was said to have watched as his mother was taken into custody and led away. The judge explained how this type of child custody case can be complicated when two parents love their child and want what’s best for the child but do not seem to get along. In this situation it can be difficult for everyone involved. Residents of Arizona may be able to relate to this Tennessee case and certainly may wish to exercise caution in this area.

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

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