Where does my Hubby stand legally on this one? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-15-2009, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My stepdaughter is Catholic, as is her Mother and everyone in her Mother's family. My Hubby, my son and myself are not Catholic, but we are Christian. It's written in the custody/visitation agreement that my stepdaughter is to be raised as Catholic and has been a problem in the past for my stepdaughter to attend any type of religious services at our church, like, for example, to see my son's part in the Easter play in our church a couple years ago, she's (my stepdaughter's Mother) gotten "worried" because she thought my Hubby and I got married in a church, but was "relieved" when she found out it was in our home with "just" a minister, although she was "slightly concerned" that we had said some prayers that were Christian, but not Catholic during our wedding ceremony. We're not allowed to pray in front on her unless it's Catholic prayers. Now there's "concern" about her going because my sister's getting married in June and it will either be at my Grandmother's house or in a (Christian, but not Catholic) church. Now, keep all that in mind when I mention that last summer, my stepdaughter's Mother sent her to a Jewish camp (we have nothing against the Jewish camp or Jewish relgion, just her Mother's reasoning) and my Hubby wasn't happy about it. My stepdaughter was one of four or five nonJewish girls who were at the camp and at the end of the day, they all sing Hebrew prayers. Now, my stepdaughter's Mother wants to send her back to that same camp next summer and, in the support documents, my Hubby (we) have to pay 80%, of, which we can't afford this year. (The camp is 3x as much as two other not as facny but still very good camps that my Hubby has looked into, so there are other acceptable options.) Technically, my stepdaughter's Mother get's final say if they don't agree, but my two questions are, if the camp is a direct violation of the custody/visitation agreement that SHE insisted on, can we get out of paying or paying so much and, since she's breaking the agreement already, can she force us to still comply, or can we do things like bring my stepdaughter to our church for special occations and such?

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 02-15-2009, 02:36 PM
 
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(standard disclaimer: remember this is not legal advice and your husband should contact his lawyer)

1. Regarding your stepchild coming to your church for special occasions: I cannot imagine anyone other than your stepchild's mother having a problem with that. I am (sort of) Jewish, yet I go to churches for weddings and funerals and even (gasp!) a program on Internet marketing. Catholicism, to my knowledge, does NOT prohibit adherents from attending services in other faiths, as a guest. (Otherwise, nobody from my ex-husband's side of the family could have come to our wedding.) It's not converting. I would take your stepkid to events when she's with you, and if Mom has a problem with it, well, it's her problem. I would refrain from taking her to church just to take her to church, though--that's more practicing the religion than visiting.

2. Re: the Jewish camp--this one may be trickier, given what I've said above. Attendance at something from another faith is not conversion or indoctrination. Mom could argue that this is child care, nothing more--and Judaism is non-evangelical, so the camp will not be trying to get her to convert or anything. You could argue that this is different from just going to a friend's bar mitzvah because this is all day, every day.

A better line of attack might be the $--this camp is way more expensive. There are reasonable, affordable options and you can't afford it. (Will the tie-breaker clause be interpreted to mean that whatever Mom wants, Mom gets, financially? I don't know. If you can't afford it, you can't afford it, and that might help.)

That she went there last year might work in Mom's favor, though, even though last year's economy was nothing like this one.

You may need to contact your attorney for this one.

Good luck!

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Old 02-15-2009, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
(standard disclaimer: remember this is not legal advice and your husband should contact his lawyer)

1. Regarding your stepchild coming to your church for special occasions: I cannot imagine anyone other than your stepchild's mother having a problem with that. I am (sort of) Jewish, yet I go to churches for weddings and funerals and even (gasp!) a program on Internet marketing. Catholicism, to my knowledge, does NOT prohibit adherents from attending services in other faiths, as a guest. (Otherwise, nobody from my ex-husband's side of the family could have come to our wedding.) It's not converting. I would take your stepkid to events when she's with you, and if Mom has a problem with it, well, it's her problem. I would refrain from taking her to church just to take her to church, though--that's more practicing the religion than visiting.

2. Re: the Jewish camp--this one may be trickier, given what I've said above. Attendance at something from another faith is not conversion or indoctrination. Mom could argue that this is child care, nothing more--and Judaism is non-evangelical, so the camp will not be trying to get her to convert or anything. You could argue that this is different from just going to a friend's bar mitzvah because this is all day, every day.

A better line of attack might be the $--this camp is way more expensive. There are reasonable, affordable options and you can't afford it. (Will the tie-breaker clause be interpreted to mean that whatever Mom wants, Mom gets, financially? I don't know. If you can't afford it, you can't afford it, and that might help.)

That she went there last year might work in Mom's favor, though, even though last year's economy was nothing like this one.

You may need to contact your attorney for this one.

Good luck!
We're trying not to have to go to court about this one- we will be officially bankrupt by September, sooner if we have to hire a lawyer, go to court, etc. But technically can she take us to court on this one- "I can send my daughter to a Jewish camp but you can't bring my daughter to a nonCatholic wedding." and seriously stand a chance of winning, having the judge allow her to force us to pay for the camp we can't afford, even though it goes against the "rule" that WE have to stick by? We really don't have the money to go to court and if we're just gonna lose anyways, what's the use? We can't afford the camp and, quite honestly, I suspect we're paying too much child support (plus daycare, plus medical, plus required "extra's", etc, but that's a different post), but we can't afford to pay our rent, much less bring her to court for child support or camp issues, know what I mean? We really don't have anything against the camp itself- my stepdaughter loves it- but we can't afford it and the double standard on her Mother's part is frustrating to no end. She can do it but we can't (not to mention, there's really not too much difference between Catholic and nonCatholic Christianity, but a huge difference between Christianity and the Jewish faith). It just seems like she makes things difficult for us for the fun of it and then rubs it in our face. While we're borrowing money left and right to pay the rent, buy foor and childsupport/camp fees, she's taking my stepdaughter on a cruise to the Bahamas in April and only wants the Jewish camp because they have two heated pools for her daughter to swim in (did I mentin it will be SUMMER?)

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 02-15-2009, 06:22 PM
 
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I am Catholic. There is no reason that I have ever heard of that Catholics cannot or should not attend events at other Churches. Heck, so far as I know there's no prohibition against going to services regularly at another church (though I imagine you could not receive the Eucharist b/c of issues going back to the schism, though you might be able to @ Orthodox churches, but that's off topic). From what I'm hearing you are not at all attempting to raise her in another faith and there is no reason she can't attend the types of events you describe.

As for the camp - given the aforementioned religious battle you're up against, I wouldn't argue about it being Jewish (though I would probably not want my kids to go to a camp that made active participation in another faith part of the daily routine). But, for the cost - does she really get final say in cases where your DH bears significant financial responsibility? I know, for instance, in my agreement, my X will pay his share of expenses for camp up to the cost of the local public day camp. We also have to consult a third party if we cannot come to agreement on major issues.

Sorry, this sounds like a headache. Good luck!

BTW - if things are financially that tight, you may well qualify for some help from lawyers who work prono bono or for reduce fees. Maybe the Pace program under the "Where Can I Obtain Legal Help" question here:

http://www.westchestergov.com/faq/de...egoryID=11#167
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:38 PM
 
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As for the camp - given the aforementioned religious battle you're up against, I wouldn't argue about it being Jewish (though I would probably not want my kids to go to a camp that made active participation in another faith part of the daily routine). But, for the cost - does she really get final say in cases where your DH bears significant financial responsibility? I know, for instance, in my agreement, my X will pay his share of expenses for camp up to the cost of the local public day camp. We also have to consult a third party if we cannot come to agreement on major issues.
This is what I was trying to say, I guess...I don't *think* a judge would order you to pay for something you couldn't afford when there was a decent alternative, but at the same time...judges are human and have their biases. Whenever I talk to clients about what a judge would do, I make sure to point that out. This one, to me, is a closer call than #1 because she went to the Jewish camp last year...this would send the message to me that your husband either consented to the Jewish thing or acquiesced, and a judge would want to know what's changed since last year that makes Jewish camp unacceptable. Hence, the cost--that seems to be the better angle than the religion itself.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this on top of difficult finances. You could just flat-out refuse to pay for anything beyond your required share of the decent alternative, and see if your SD's mom bites or backs down. Your husband could represent himself if Mom drags him back to court; many courts have assistance for pro-se litigants.

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Old 02-15-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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I can't imagine you being forced to pay for a camp. Even if you were not struggling financially, I would assume that you can't be forced to pay for a camp if you don't want your kid going to that camp. Am I naive for believing this? Just doesn't seem right.

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Old 02-15-2009, 11:35 PM
 
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Hence, the cost--that seems to be the better angle than the religion itself.
That's my thought as well. Especially if you feel she is rubbing it in your face that she is sending her to a non-Catholic camp, I would refuse to rise to that bait and just make it a financial issue. Like ProtoLawyer suggested, I would just find out how much the reasonably-priced alternatives cost and tell her you will pay XX amount (equalling his agreed-upon percentage of that cost)toward camp.

As for the weddings and other events at the non-Catholic curch, I would honestly just go, as though you were going to a family or social event anywhere else. If she says something about it, your husband can just repeat ad nauseum that "it was a wedding/play/concert/family event and was not in any way religious training." I'd be absolutely shocked if she could win that one in court...

I'd find it unbelievable that anyone would TRY in court for that, but then I think back to some of the things OUR lawyer has had to duke out with my husband's ex's lawyer for hundreds of dollars an hour, that could have ultimately ended up in court, and I find I am no longer surprised at anything that people will take to court...

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Old 02-16-2009, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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BTW - if things are financially that tight, you may well qualify for some help from lawyers who work prono bono or for reduce fees. Maybe the Pace program under the "Where Can I Obtain Legal Help" question here:

http://www.westchestergov.com/faq/de...egoryID=11#167
Thank you! I'll look into it first thing tomorrow morning.

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This one, to me, is a closer call than #1 because she went to the Jewish camp last year...this would send the message to me that your husband either consented to the Jewish thing or acquiesced, and a judge would want to know what's changed since last year that makes Jewish camp unacceptable.
Last year, we were under the impression it was a nonpracticing Jewish company owned camp. We didn't know that there were actual prayer sessions and such.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:31 PM
 
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I can't imagine you being forced to pay for a camp. Even if you were not struggling financially, I would assume that you can't be forced to pay for a camp if you don't want your kid going to that camp. Am I naive for believing this? Just doesn't seem right.
I think that generally (assuming the CP works or is in school) day camp (not away camp in Norway) is considered to be childcare for school aged children, who wouldn't otherwise have a regular daycare/nanny setup during the school year. That's what my lawyer explained. Like I said, my X will be responsible for his share, up to the cost of the local municipal daycamp, specifically to be sure that he wouldn't be responsible for the ritziest camp this side of the Mississippi.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:37 PM
 
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well, have you tried pointing out to her that she was fine with putting your dsd in a Jewish camp and asking her why that is okay when she does not want her to go to events at other churches? Maybe if you put it that way she will ease off a bit. FWIW I seriously doubt that any court would say that you couldn't take your child to any religious ceremony of any other religion- i.e. weddings, funerals, etc.. I was raised Catholic, and this was certainly never came up. Sounds like her on a power trip more than anything, so I would just not mention those events to her other than, oh yes, dsd had so much fun at x's wedding!
I agree that you should not have to pay for a camp that you can't afford. Any reason why she gets final say when your dh is paying 80%? That seems really unfair, and I bet if it was taken to court (which I know you want to avoid) then you wouldn't have to pay for it. We don't have anything in writing like that, but when dp's x wanted to put dsd in camp for an extra 2 weeks, we didn't have the money and she was going to pay for it herself, although she did decide against it in the end. We did offer to watch dsd for that time if that was the issue, incidentally, but I am a SAHM and we only live 10 min. away, so that might not be an option for you.

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Old 02-17-2009, 12:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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well, have you tried pointing out to her that she was fine with putting your dsd in a Jewish camp and asking her why that is okay when she does not want her to go to events at other churches?
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Sounds like her on a power trip more than anything
Definately. Her catchall phrase is "because I'm the Mother".

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I agree that you should not have to pay for a camp that you can't afford. Any reason why she gets final say when your dh is paying 80%?
My Hubby agreed to some really lame things on the child support/alimony/visitation front because, long story short, he was more or less blackmailed and made to believe (and these people are entirelyu capable of) that if he didn't go along with alot of things, his daughter would grow up not knowing who her Daddy was. He's smartened up alot, but hopefully in the future, we can have some of those stipulations revoked. We're pretty much paying for a minimu of 80% of everything for that child.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:49 AM
 
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My Hubby agreed to some really lame things on the child support/alimony/visitation front because, long story short, he was more or less blackmailed and made to believe (and these people are entirelyu capable of) that if he didn't go along with alot of things, his daughter would grow up not knowing who her Daddy was. He's smartened up alot, but hopefully in the future, we can have some of those stipulations revoked. We're pretty much paying for a minimu of 80% of everything for that child.
Honestly, if you think that you are going to wind up spending the money to go to court over this one, I would hire a really good lawyer and go to court over the whole parenting agreement. Since you are paying so much, if you have any success at all, your court costs will pay for themselves within a year or two. I know that is what happened to us.

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Old 02-18-2009, 03:23 AM
 
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"But technically can she take us to court on this one- "I can send my daughter to a Jewish camp but you can't bring my daughter to a nonCatholic wedding." and seriously stand a chance of winning, having the judge allow her to force us to pay for the camp we can't afford, even though it goes against the "rule" that WE have to stick by?"

I think it's probably time to stop accepting her interpretation of the raised-Catholic stipulation. Going to weddings, performances by relatives, etc. in other houses of worship is something that almost all religious Americans do. If your dsd is with your family when these family events happen, she should be attending with you.

As to getting the parenting agreement changed... you know that the risk of ending up even worse off is always there. If I were your dh, I'd just point out that I was going bankrupt, offer to pay 80% of a cheaper camp, and refuse to fight about it. She might take it to court. She might not.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:05 PM
 
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I am very Catholic and I think it's absolutely ridiculous about the church issue. A wedding is an event at a church, and does not constitute being raised in the church.

As for the Jewish camp, well, my oldest went to Jewish day camp because there weren't many day camps and that's where her friends were, great location and great price. Yes, I had to suddenly make sure she had kosher food for her packed lunches, but other than a meal prayer, I don't think there was other religion involved. But yes, as the custodial parent, she does get to decide where the child goes to camp.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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My suggestion, FWIW, is to send her a letter along the following lines...

Dear XW,

Per your specific and court ordered concerns of DD being exposed to any religious beliefs other than Catholicism, and your insistence that DD not even be in the presence of other, even Christian beliefs, I must agree that we continue to abide by the court order and your own specifically stated wishes, and I will not be funding a Jewish camp for DD to attend. She, of course, may attend any Catholic camp of her choosing. I am not comfortable sending DD such mixed messages that, per your orders, she may not enter a church other than a Catholic church, even to see her own family, but yet, per your insistence, she may spend a week at a camp of an entirely different faith basis.

Your understanding is greatly appreciated,
XH

ETA: I don't think this issue is about the religion, BTW, it's about XW being in CONTROL of the religion...and by default your DH...so relinquishing control of the situation and utilizing her OWN argument, she has nothing to argue.

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