Circumcision and Custody

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, July 3, 2014.

Let’s cut to the chase here: some people want their child circumcised, others don’t. In child custody cases, what happens when parents disagree? A Florida court is considering that issue.

3000-year old Egyptian hieroglyph

A recent case was started in Palm Beach County, and involves a 3-year old. A written agreement between the parents requires his circumcision. The father still wants this done, but the mother’s enthusiasm has gone flaccid, and she wants to chop up the agreement.

The Mother, Heather Hironimus, agreed with the Father, Dennis Nebus, to circumcise their child. Now Hironimus has told Nebus she doesn’t want their child exposed to general anesthesia, “for fear of death”! The Mother’s attorney, Sinatra, argued the best interest of the child trumps the agreement.* The mother lost.

*These are their real names.

At issue is a parenting agreement Nebus and Hironimus signed and filed in court, which stipulates that their son would be circumcised under arrangements made by the father. The parents never married.

Her complaint is no longer limited to the risks of anesthesia, now the Mother is seeking the support of Intactivists, a group which opposes circumcision. She is fundraising for help with her legal fees:

I am pleading with fellow intactavists, parents and all others to help me save my son, his foreskin, his rights . . . from allowing the ‘system’ to make these decisions. Please help me help my son!!

The case came to a head in Palm Beach, after a judge ruled the circumcision could proceed. The judge required the Mother to facilitate the circumcision and that she “not in any way lead [the child] to believe that she is or was opposed to his being circumcised, whether or not she accompanies [the child] to the procedure.”

The Mother appealed to the Fourth District. The appellate court issued a stay of the trial court order. Now the circumcision must wait.

While this is a novel case in Florida, the Oregon Supreme Court handled something similar. In Oregon, the Supreme Court concluded that decisions to have a circumcision are unfettered by a noncustodial parent’s concerns or beliefs. However, by age 12, the child’s preference is necessary to the determination.

Florida has different family laws, we don’t have primary and secondary parents for instance. And, unless there is a provision for sole parental decision making or ultimate authority, the parents are going to need to agree. If the parents can’t agree, they have to come to court for a resolution. This is a case to keep an eye on.

More information on the Palm Beach circumcision case can be found here.