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LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Experienced Family Law Attorney
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My ex-husband and I were divorced in 2009, before our son

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Hello,My ex-husband and I were divorced in 2009, before our son was born in 2010. Before we got married we agreed in a written prenup to raise a family, our unborn children, as Catholics as I am a practicing Catholic, and he was born in the Jewish Faith but does not practice it or believe. During our custody trial we, once again, included in our court documents and agreement that our son would be raised in the Catholic Faith. Now, our son is 7 yrs old, just started 2nd grade and is preparing for his First Communion in the Spring of 2018. His dad does not want our son to go to Mass on Sundays, and says he's supporting his Faith by agreeing to take him to CCD (Catholic education class) on his Sundays, and that that is enough and does not wish his weekends to be disrupted by also having to take him to Mass. As our son is entering in a new stage in his Catholic education, preparing for his firs Communion, and now of age to understand and be held accountable for his action, going to Mass, etc, I offered to take our son to Mass myself on his weekends and bring him back to him right after, and even suggested that he could take our son 1hr on my weekend to make up for church, just anything to avoid having to fight over something that is not negotiable... He refuses, but we did agree for him to fully support our son in his Catholic Faith in court as written on our court papers... I also suggested he bring our son back Sunday nigh an hour later to make up for church, still refuses. Our son should not be made to miss Mass, one of the most important aspects of our Faith, because it's inconvenient for his dad, or as he sees it, a disruption of father-son time. I tried to convey to his dad that being part of our son's activities and duties any day of the week is not a disruption, quite the opposite, is being part of every aspect of our son's life, but sadly my ex is being very negative about this. I do not want to enforce our legal agreement on him, provided different options that I feel are reasonable, but I haven't been successful. So what legal recourse do I have now?

Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

I am very sorry to hear this; I know First Communion is a milestone and children raised in the faith tend to look forward to it with much anticipation.

The problem with child custody issues (that includes anything pertaining to the child, such as parenting time, extracuriccular activities, religious upbringing, medical choices etc) is that the court retains ongoing jurisdiction over the issues and can modify any agreement/order as they see fit (because the court is deemed to be the venue with ultimate authority).

However, when there is indication that the parents have a long term agreement to raise a child a certain way, particularly religiously ( a certain faith) or dealing with education (ie homeschool, public/private education) then the court will typically enforce any agreement (and if no written agreement may find an implied agreement).

If the court order as written incorporates the agreement then it is for now (absent modification) binding so that if a parent makes a knowing and willful violation they can be held in contempt of court. Of most practical importance, the court may modify the parenting schedule so that the parent that is willing to give effect to the agreement will have parenting time during the relevant period (ie mass, CCD, etc)

So a party can:

1. bring a motion for contempt-this tends to raise the stakes and increase the litigious aspect of custody cases so that should be considered.

2. bring a motion to compel compliance with the court order -so a specific directive that the parent must take (and encourage) the child to attend these events

3. bring a motion to modify custody and visitation so that the parent that is willing to encourage these activities will have possession of the child during these times.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. The terms addressing this can be viewed here:

Thank you and take care.

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
ok thank you.

You are most welcome;

another option is mediation-but unfortunately that is not often successful in cases involving one single aspect because each party already has their preformed opinions/positions.
I certainly wish you the best on this.

Take care.

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Ok, thx again, this information is very helpful. I'll get on it.

Glad to help! enjoy your weekend.

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