Pagan Divorce: Child Custody - Making Your Case
Article ID: 2170
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,999
Times Read: 17,509
Posted: July 26th. 1998
Times Viewed: 17,509
Overview: Generally, statutes authorize the court having jurisdiction of divorce proceedings to determine who shall have custody of the children from the marriage. Under the common statutory provision, the parents of a legitimate child are considered joint guardians of that child, and the rights of both parents are equal (Each parent has an equal right to the custody of the child when they separate.)
Like other aspects of family law, most of the law in this field is state determined. States have various statutes and procedures that govern child welfare and custody issues. Your lawyer would be familiar with the laws and statutes in your state.
To get beyond the stereotype, you sometimes need the protection of the law. Yes, that very same legal system that was used to get you into this situation can also help to get you out. Don't depend on your lawyer to know all about Witchcraft/Wicca (some do, some don't), but you ARE paying for his/her good legal representation. If your personal belief in Witchcraft/Wicca has become an issue in your custody case, you need to educate your lawyer and quickly.
You DO have a lawyer, right?
Obtaining A Lawyer:
It is very important that you hire a lawyer to ensure protection of your legal rights. To obtain a lawyer:
- Look in your local phone book under "Attorneys".
- Contact the American Bar Association and ask them for help finding an attorney experienced in family law/divorce law. Ask for an attorney willing to work on a sliding scale (based on your income) or pro bono (for free) if you think you cannot afford to hire an attorney.
- Contact your local legal aid society.
Many partners in a dissolving marriage hesitate too long before they hire a lawyer. Don't make this mistake. If you have heard anything along the lines of, "If you try to do such and such to me..." or "If you don't agree to..." followed by, "I'll tell everyone that you are a Witch and let's see how the courts feel about that!", you simply must protect yourself by obtaining legal representation. There are no words more chilling to a parent than, "I'll make sure that you never see those children again!"
As soon as papers are filed, all martial assets are considered "frozen." That means that the other party cannot empty all the bank accounts or dispose of joint property until the final settlement is reached. (Well, they CAN, but anything disposed of after the filing date would still be considered as marital property and you still can recover your fair share.) You can also work out a temporary child custody agreement and other living arrangements.
Providing Educational Material To Your Lawyer:
Let the lawyer know up front-if papers have not been served yet-that the other party is threatening to use your religious preference against you. A good lawyer will know how the courts view religious issues in child custody and divorce hearings. (Courts do NOT like to become involved in disputes over religion. Even for trained professionals, this is a very sensitive area of law.) Along with any court documents that you may already have been served with, bring copies of these documents listed below with you for your lawyer to look over.
In addition three states have enacted religious freedom protection laws: Connecticut, Rhode Island and Florida.
Often, if it becomes apparent to the opposition lawyer that the threats being formulated by the other party will be "well met" in the answer by your attorney, this issue will be dropped or handled as just one more issue that the court will consider in making its assessment of child custody.
Location: Tampa, Florida
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