Circumcision Provision in a Parenting Plan?
Heather Hironimus has recently made headlines for refusing to allow her child’s father, Dennis Nebus, to take their four-year-old son to be circumcised. The paternity suit was initiated in 2010, when the couple originally agreed, via their parenting plan, that their son would be circumcised at the father’s expense. Two years later, Hironimus changed her mind and refused to consent to the surgery. Subsequent judicial orders attempting to enforce the parenting agreement found in favor of the father. Local surgeons, however, were reportedly uneasy performing the circumcision without the mother’s explicit consent. Hironimus refused to consent to the procedure and failed to appear for a hearing in March when a warrant was issued for her arrest. Hironimus was released from the civil contempt charge when she consented, in writing, to the circumcision.
What is a Paternity Suit?
Paternity is the legal process of establishing the parentage of a child. Establishing paternity gives legal rights, benefits, and responsibilities to the parents of a child. These rights include making medical decisions, inheritance issues, and access to health insurance. By establishing paternity each parent has the right to appear on the birth certificate, obtain a child support order, request visitation or custody, and make legal decisions about the child.
How Do You Establish Paternity?
Paternity is either established through marriage or an establishment of paternity case. If both parents are married to one another when the child is born, they are presumed to be the legal parents of the child. For unmarried parents, however, the process begins with the filing of a Petition to Establish Paternity. Essentially, this petition is a request for the court to determine the father of the child. Mothers, fathers, and anyone who believes they may be the father of a child can initiate a paternity action.
What is a Parenting Plan?
Whenever a minor child is involved, parents must devise a parenting plan. This includes divorce actions in addition to paternity suits of unmarried parents. A parenting plan clearly divides parental responsibility (custody), time sharing (visitation), healthcare and educational matters, communication, and other relevant issues. The ‘other relevant issues’ category can include specific enforceable provisions, including the controversial circumcision provision in the Hironimus case.
Florida allows for plans that accommodate parents who live close to one another, plans that require supervised time sharing, and plans that accommodate parents who live more than fifty miles away. If both parents agree on the terms of the parenting plan it will be submitted to the court for review. When considering whether or not to approve the agreement, the court will determine if each provision of the parenting plan is in agreement with the best interests of the child. Initial parenting plans are not final; they can be modified by petitioning the court.
How Do I Enforce My Parental Rights?
If you are considering filing a paternity suit, are the defendant in a paternity suit, or you have questions on how to enforce a provision of your parenting plan, contact the Tampa family and divorce lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+