I am a divorced father of a 10-year-old boy. Five years ago, he was circumcised without my consent or notification by either my ex-wife or the doctor. I was only told after the procedure probably because during the divorce process I made clear I would not consent to this procedure.
Our divorce decree states: Custody a. The award of “joint legal custody” means that both parties have equal rights and responsibilities regarding or determining children’s upbringing, including, without limitations, education, health care and religious training. Neither party’s rights are superior to those of the other; b. The parties shall confer and consult with each other in the major areas of the lives of the children, including, without limitation, their health care, religious training, and education, and where decisions in these areas are needed shall attempt in good faith to reach a joint decision; c. Both parties shall have the right to inspect and receive the children’s medical and dental records and the right to consult with any treating physician or dentist or other health care professional of the children.
I am seeking compensation for damages suffered by the child and modification of the custodial agreement. What legal recourse do I have?
You need to consult a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your state as remedies for violations of court orders vary from state to state. You may also need to consult with a general civil litigation attorney if you are looking for recovery of damages.
From a domestic litigation perspective, you need to determine whether or not the procedure was considered elective or medically necessary. Although circumcisions are generally elective, there may have been a medical reason which resulted in his pediatrician ordering it as medically necessary. If the procedure was elective, then your ex-wife violated the Court order and you can motion the Court to find her in contempt of court. Even if the doctor deemed it medically necessary, the procedure was probably scheduled weeks or maybe months before the procedure. As such, she should have consulted with you prior. Have you obtained copies of the medical records which lead to the circumcision? Your attorney will likely want to see copies of the records. If the Judge finds that she intentionally violated the Court Order, the Court could order her to pay a fine or could issue a jail sentence.
Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.