Upbringing: Who Decides When Parents Dispute?

Upbringing: Who Decides When Parents Dispute?

Nothing is closer to the heart of a parent than deciding how to raise a child within the home. The upbringing of a child is so imperative that the law reflects this parental right to decide how to bring up your child. Parental rights, within the United States, are fundamental, and before a parent may have his or her rights terminated by the government, or before the government may interfere in right of the parent to choose the best approach for raising a child, the onus is on the government to prove that there is an outweighing reason for not permitting the parent to raise the child in his or her own way. Usually, the government’s interest in interfering with a parent’s right to raise a child is based largely on suspected or actual harm or injury of that child based on the parent’s action.

The Case Surrounding Circumcision

In Florida, there has been considerable debate recently about the right to which not only the government may intervene on behalf of a child, but also, how to balance that right in the face of the parent’s right to raise a child as he or she sees fit. This case in Florida came to a head over a parental custody agreement signed by the separating parents agreeing to circumcise their child. The parents had separated at this point, but as part of the separation, the couple signed a parental agreement, agreeing to certain tenets of the child’s upbringing. Circumcision of the child was agreed to by the mother at the urging of the father who ultimately was the one that wanted the child to be circumcised.

The mother, however, when it came the time, refused to circumcise the child, which led to a lengthy court proceeding whereby the court held that the parental agreement needed to be enforced. The mother refused again and was held in contempt of the court. The child, after all of the proceedings, is now four years old, and the mother is putting forth that the procedure not only frightens the child but would cause serious psychological and emotional damage, which would not be in the best interest of the child. The Court remains unconvinced.

How Should the Court Decide to Rule?

At the heart of this case, there is considerable weight given to the parental agreement signed between the father and the mother. Circumcision, among other decisions that can be made regarding the well-being and health of the child, has become a rather contentious debate, especially when the mother and father are split as to the decision. The court may be the ultimate decider when both mother and father are adamantly opposed. So who should the court rule with?

Factors Evaluated By the Court

This depends largely on the state, on the custody arrangement, and on the parental agreement decided between the couple. For the most part, the custody arrangement will hold sway for most decisions. This is especially true when one parent receives full custody and the other parent receives only visitation rights. Because of the disparity of the arrangement and the conclusion of the court that one parent is more capable of caring for the child than the other, those decisions regarding upbringing will primarily remain with the parent who has full custody. When the parents share joint custody, then the parental agreement will have more of an effect since both parents will be on equal footing.

Finally, the decision may be decided by the court in the case of an impasse where many factors will be evaluated and weighed and ultimately the decision will lie in the best interest of the child.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Mount Pleasant, Charleston Area

Disagreements regarding the upbringing of your child should be dealt with through the provisions of the parental agreement or, if that does not work, potentially through a mediator. The experienced family law attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC can provide support and guide you through the divorce process. Contact Klok Law Firm LLC today for an initial and confidential consultation.