When couples with children divorce, each parent has an idea of the lessons they want the children to continue to learn throughout their lives. For many, reaching a compromise on these matters is difficult even when the couple stays together, but when the family is split apart because of a child custody arrangement, things can get even trickier.
When primary custody is granted to one parent, that parent often assumes that they have the right to raise the children with whatever values and religion they believe is appropriate. However, in one recent case, religion was a sticking point in the child custody agreement. Although the mother was given primary custody, the divorce agreement stated that major religious decisions were to be discussed by both parents before things moved forward.
Although both parents were Christian, they had different ideas when it came to the appropriate time for the children to be baptized. The mother believed in early baptism. The father wanted to wait until the children were old enough to better comprehend the meaning behind the sacrament.
While both options may be valid from a religious standpoint, it is debatable whether or not the court ever should have made any ruling regarding religion as part of the child custody agreement in the first place. Because it did, and because there is no way to un-baptize a child, it is possible that the mother could face jail time for defying the court's instruction by baptizing the children.
The courts make a lot of calls when it comes to child custody and other divorce arrangements, and many of them may be up for debate. If there are unwelcome wrinkles in your agreement, a family law attorney may be able to give them a second look, identify modification options and help you iron out your future.
Source: NY Daily News, "Tennessee mom faces jail for baptizing her two children without husband's consent," April 1, 2012