Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Florida parents fight over circumcision

Some people argue that joint child custody can never work, unless both parents agree on everything, or some legal authority micromanages their lives. I believe this is false, but I welcome difficult examples.

One of the biggest examples in the news is the decision to circumcise a boy. This is one of those issues that some people attach great importance to. Apparently there are women who feel very strongly about it, altho I don't know why any woman would care, just as I don't know why men would care about female circumcision.

Slate summarizes:
When Hironimus [mom] refused to allow the procedure to go forward, Nebus [dad] took her to court to enforce the contract she had signed. A state court sided with Nebus, noting that their parenting plan “clearly and unambiguously provides” that Chase would be circumcised. An appeals court unanimously affirmed the ruling, and a judge ordered Hironimus to turn Chase over to Nebus so he could schedule the procedure. Hironimus instead disappeared with her son. The judge then issued a warrant for her arrest for interfering with child custody. For weeks Hironimus escaped arrest by hiding with Chase in a domestic violence shelter. (Hironimus has not claimed that she was abused.) While hiding out, Hironimus filed a federal lawsuit against Nebus, asserting that, by having Chase circumcised, Nebus would violate his son’s constitutional rights. Eventually, the police discovered Hironimus’ whereabouts, took her into custody, and turned Chase over to Nebus.

A tenacious community of intactivists seized upon Hironimus’ plight as both a crusade and a publicity stunt.
From her jail cell, Hironimus filed an emergency motion in federal court to prevent Nebus from having Chase circumcised. When a federal judge essentially laughed Hironimus out of court, she withdrew her federal suit. A state judge ruled that Hironimus will remain in jail until she signs the consent form for Chase to be circumcised. On Friday a weeping Hironimus signed the form. She still faces criminal charges for absconding with Chase in violation of her custody agreement.
I do not even think that this should have anything to do with child custody. State law requires parental consent for a child medical operation. Some laws require one-parent consent. Some require two-parent consent. I have no idea about circumcision, but even if two-parent consent is required, the dad could argue that the mom has already given it.

There are some troubling aspects to this story, such as:
For a brief time early Friday, it appeared Hironimus had no intention of approving the circumcision, even if the refusal meant being kept behind bars indefinitely.
That is not consent. That is the opposite of consent. No one should be satisfied with such a signature. I would hope that the surgeon would refuse it, altho he might accept a judge's order that the earlier consent applies.

Sometimes family court apologists deny that judges micro-manage anyone, because usually everyone consents to the orders. They have a very funny idea of consent. Cases settle based on what is likely to be ordered, not what the parties want.

Also, there is no value to a shrink opinion:
In a telephone interview with Local10.com, attorney Thomas Hunker said he recently began representing Hironimus after her previous lawyer, Taryn Sinatra, withdrew.

Hunker said he filed a motion to have a court-appointed guardian ad litem for the boy and is seeking to have a mental health professional evaluate the boy's "emotional state" to determine if circumcision is "something that would be advisable." He said the goal is to make sure the child "has an independent voice" and isn't caught up in his parents' squabble.

"It's the boy who's really going to have to live the rest of his life with the decision," Hunker said.
There are pros and cons to circumcision, but having a psychologist talk to a 4-year-old is just family court silliness. There can be no objective evaluation of BIOTCh in a case like this. I think that the American Academy of Pediatrics has gone back and forth on this issue a couple of times.

A reader writes:
Since marriage contracts are not enforceable, but may be unilaterally broken by one party for any reason or no reason, it's unclear why an "agreed parenting plan" between unmarried partners is binding and enforceable against one party who changes her mind for whatever reason.
That is a good point, and it seems stupid that our law requires a court-approved parenting plan from unmarried parents, but not married parents.

All I can say is that a set of legal and cultural shifts have redefined marriage. When two people get married, they are not agreeing to a permanent relationship, or any binding obligations. They are agreeing to let a family court judge micro-manage their lives if one party requests it. Gay marriage is just a part of this shift.

I don't know why anyone agreed to this shift. It is destroying our society. I have documented the evils on this blog.

A legal site says:
What if I My Spouse and I Disagree on Consent?

This is a highly contentious area of the law, and your options vary from state to state. Most states only require the consent of a single parent to perform a circumcision. HOWEVER, although the law is not very established on this subject, a parent or guardian who feels that circumcision will not be in the best interests of the child may file an injunction to prevent the operation.

For the most part, very very few doctors will perform a circumcision if one parent objects to the procedure, usually out of fear of a lawsuit. You should make your objection very clear to all doctors involved, to prevent any misunderstandings (an attorney can also provide you with a "non-circumcision notification form" that will put the hospital on notice).
So the dad probably could have legally had the circumcision done on his own time, if the surgeon agreed to do it. So I doubt that the surgeon would be any more likely to do it, knowing that the mom only signed the form to get out of jail.

Here is a obgyn Newborn Circumcision Consent Form (Msft doc), and there is only one signature line. I am guessing that physicians normally accept the instructions of one parent.


Dan said...

Why wouldn't you want to protect your child from permanent injury to their genitals, regardless of their sex?

George said...

I would want all children to be protected from permanent injury. Circumcision could be banned, if it is really so bad.