Circumcision & Custody: An Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Let’s cut to the meat of the coconut: what does a court do when parents disagree in a custody dispute over circumcising their child? Florida state and federal courts have recently been trying to answer that question.

Last year’s Palm Beach County case made international news, and I wrote about it then. The parents entered into a written agreement to circumcise their baby. Their agreement was later incorporated into a court order.

The father, Nebus, still wants the circumcision performed, but the mother, Hironimus, changed her mind. Now she wants to modify the agreement. Hironimus initially told the Father she didn’t want the child exposed to anesthesia.

After filing her initial complaint though, the mother obtained the support of Intactivists – a group which opposes circumcision – and the Mother’s complaint has grown into a general, anti-circumcision campaign.

The trial judge ordered the enforcement of the parties’ agreement, and the Mother appealed. After losing the appeal, the Mother filed a federal case in the district court, which the Mother later dismissed.

But, with her legal options dwindling, the Mother made a huge error: she stole the child, ignored a court order requiring her to appear in court, and refused to give her consent for the surgery to be performed.

An arrest warrant was issued, but she wasn’t located until May 14 at a Broward County domestic violence shelter where she was hiding with her son. She was put in jail for contempt of court.

Brought before the judge last week, Hironimus again declined to sign a consent form for the surgery, and she was advised she would remain jailed indefinitely.

After the hearing ended, she reconsidered, and signed the consent form. Though the signature solved a contempt charge against her, she still faces a criminal charge of interference with child custody.

The executive director of Intact America, which advocates against circumcision, said the images of a distraught mother signing the form to allow the surgery show how she was “bullied” into it and that she doesn’t truly give her consent.

It is important to note that the judge did not order the circumcision. Instead, the judge enforced the parents’ written agreement. The court enforced it by designating the Father to make the ultimate decision for the circumcision.

This is an important distinction, because if both parents decided not to circumcise their child, the court would not compel it. The court is merely upholding a run-of-the-mill settlement agreement after one parent reneges.

More information can be found in the Sun Sentinel article.