Is circumcision in the best interest of the child?

Following a divorce, many parents with children have some custody agreement in place which determines whether the parents will have joint or sole physical and legal custody of the child. In legal terms, physical custody refers to the parent the child will physically live with. On the other hand, legal custody refers to which parent has the legal authority make to decisions concerning the child's upbringing in areas such as education, medical, and religious needs.

In some cases, parties may mutually agree to share legal and physical custody. However, in some cases a joint arrangement may not be in the best interest of the child or a parent may refuse to honor such an agreement. In fact, Florida residents may find it interesting to learn that parents of 3-year-old boy found themselves in court over the issue of their son's circumcision.

According to reports, a couple of years ago in 2012 the parents of the boy entered into a parenting agreement wherein the father was granted the right to make his son's medical appointments, and pay any resulting medical expenses. The parties agreed at that time that the father would deal with his son's circumcision. In essence, the parents had agreed upon joint legal custody.

Despite the explicit terms of the parenting agreement, the parents ended up in court when the mother of the 3-year-old boy raised an objection when the father wanted his son circumcised. In her objection to male circumcision, she noted that it is genital mutilation, not medically necessary and would subject her son to risks associated with general anesthesia. A lower court, however, affirmed that the parenting agreement which gave the father the rights to make medical decisions for their son was valid, and gave the father the go ahead to proceed. The mother appealed the lower court decision and was granted a stay by a higher court. Furthermore, the mother's attorney noted that even though a parenting agreement is in place, one should consider the best interest of the child.

When it comes to parenting agreements, any Florida family attorney will agree that they are drafted to ensure that parents know and understand the custody arrangement, visitations schedules and the like. But, disputes over such agreements can arise. When they do it may be helpful for the parents to work with a family law attorney to resolve the parenting agreement dispute.

Source: Yahoo News, "Should a Florida Court Be Able to Force a Three-Year-Old Boy to Get Circumcised?," Liz Dwyer, May 17, 2014

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