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Church attendance questioned in family law case

Parents in Missouri who remain in a loving and committed relationship often struggle to agree on how their children should be raised. While parenting styles can differ, so can ideals regarding in what religion the children should participate. These struggles to agree are often even more difficult when parents are no longer in a romantic relationship. In fact, questions regarding church attendance were recently raised in a family law case in another state.

The case involved two parents and their children. The parents' divorce decree included provisions that required the children to "participate" in the Catholic religion. Specifically, the decree mentioned participation in First Communion, Confirmation and weekly education classes. However, the father learned that the children's mother had attended a church of a different religion with the children during her parenting time.

As a result, the man argued that the mother should be taking the children to mass, stating that attending mass weekly and on certain holidays was a requirement of Catholicism. Though a judge agreed, the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned that in a unanimous ruling, arguing that the word "participate" is vague, and a civil court is unable to determine what constitutes a successful completion of the tenets of the religion. However, the woman must ask her former husband for permission to take the children to attend churches of other denominations, as was agreed to in the original divorce settlement.

Many people going through a divorce may not fully realize the potential implications of decisions that they make as part of a settlement. Unfortunately, it is often difficult -- though not impossible -- to change an original decree once entered. As such, many people in Missouri and across the country seek the guidance of a professional experienced with family law to help them throughout the process.

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