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Court says Florida father cannot discuss religion with children

A father in Florida has been restricted from sharing his religious viewpoints with his children. In a recent appeals court case, a three-judge panel determined that the man's religious opinions are emotionally damaging for his children; therefore, he should not be permitted to share them.

The couple split up in 2013 following a psychotic episode suffered by one of their children. At the same time, the mother filed for a domestic violence injunction against the father. According to three professionals who testified in the divorce case, the father's demonization and damnation of the mother of the children resulted in all three of the children suffering emotional distress and anxiety to a level that qualified as abuse.

In response to the allegations, the man admitted that he did not treat his ex-wife and children well, but he was trying to make changes following an epiphany of a religious nature. The father also admitted to using biblical verses to justify the way he severely punished his children and tried to control their behavior.

The appeals court that made the decision included a provision in its final judgment regarding the parenting plan and time-sharing plan that will prevent the father from talking about any religious matters while his children are visiting him. The panel of three judges stated in its opinion that typically family law courts cannot limit parents from talking about their religious beliefs with their children; however, in this case, religiously motivated behavior that could impact the welfare of the children could not be ignored.

Parenting plans that govern the way child custody is shared and visitation arrangements are made in Florida may include specific provisions that govern the way parents are permitted to act. Florida parents who believe that their situation warrants specific kinds of provisions in the parenting plan may want to discuss the facts of the case with an experienced divorced lawyer.

Source: courthousenews.com, "Dad Barred From Talking Religion With Kids," Jeff Gorman, Oct. 12, 2016

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