Reisinger Booth & Associates, P.C., L.L.O.

Nebraska Supreme Court rules on wording in divorce decree

A divorce and child custody agreement typically addresses a number of issues, from where children will live to where they will go to school to where they will spend the holidays.

And recently, the Nebraska Supreme Court made a ruling on a case that has to do with where children go to church.

The case involved the wording in a divorce decree about the faith in which the children are to be raised. The divorce decree stated the children were to "be enrolled and be participants in the Catholic religion."

This clause in the decree became an issue when the children's father discovered that his ex-wife was taking their two kids to services at a Lutheran and not a Catholic church when the youngsters were with her. He said that was in violation of their parenting plan, under which they agreed the children be "participants" in the Catholic church.

The Nebraska Supreme Court said the decree didn't require the mother to take her children regularly to Catholic Mass.

The court, in a unanimous ruling said the divorce degree only required the children to take part in first communion and confirmation, as well as attend CCD classes, which provides religious education to children who don't attend Catholic school.

"We do not understand how the requirement that the children be registered as Catholics in some way also compels the Mass attendance ordered by the district court," the justices said in their ruling, which overturned a previous district court decision.

Additionally, while the mother will not have to take the children to Mass, she will have to get permission from her ex-husband to take the children to services in a different faith. A note in the divorce decree requires one parent to seek a written agreement from the other for the children to participate in a non-Catholic activities.

There are many considerations in a divorce, and not every scenario can be thought of at the time of divorce. While these former spouses thought they had addressed the religion issue, they still wound up litigating this topic in court. When it appears you have reached a stalemate in your parenting plan, it can be revisited with the help of your family law attorney and taken to court as a last resort if the two sides can't reach an agreement.

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