By Gerri Elder
In court, judges sometimes have little or no case law on which to base their decisions and have to make determinations based on the best interests of the parties involved. Of particular concern in divorce cases are the best interests of any children that are involved.
CNN has reported that the Oregon Supreme Court has recently made a ruling in regard to a bitter ongoing custody dispute between parents who differ on matters of religion and their son. The Supreme Court in Oregon found that the couple's 12-year-old son will get a say in whether or not he goes under the knife and gets circumcised.
After determining that the child will be allowed to express his opinion on the issue, the Supreme Court sent the custody case back to the trial court to determine whether or not the child, known just as "M" in the case, would like to be circumcised.
James and Lia Boldt were divorced in 1999, but in all the years since, they have not been able to resolve the child custody issues over their son, "M."
Religion is one of the issues central to the custody dispute. Shortly after the couple divorced, James Boldt began studying Judaism and eventually converted to the religion. He has shared his religious beliefs with "M" and also started teaching his son about Judaism. When he converted, he had physical custody of the child, and he informed his ex-wife that their child would also be converting to Judaism. That is when the issue of having "M" circumcised arose. In order for the child to convert to his dad's faith, he would need to have the procedure done.
Lia Boldt said that she would not allow her son to be circumcised. She argued that "M" had been raised in the Russian Orthodox faith during their marriage and that his religion would not change now that they are divorced.
Because James and Lia Boldt could not come to an agreement on the matter and lived in different states at the time, the issue became an ongoing conflict between the two and evolved into a constitutional legal battle.
On one side, James Boldt argues that since he is the primary caregiver for his son, and he is now Jewish, he has a First Amendment right to practice his religion and make decisions as he sees fit for his child in regard to his faith.
On the other side is the child's mother, Lia Boldt. She argues that the child is not Jewish, and that he does not want to be circumcised. She claims that circumcision is an invasive and irreversible surgery, and she does not want her son to undergo a potentially dangerous medical procedure simply because his dad wants him to.
The high court in Oregon had tried to avoid making a decision about the circumcision of "M" because they felt that it should have been handled as a private matter in the family. However, the Supreme Court justices saw that the Boldt's are simply not going to resolve this issue amongst themselves and therefore made the decision to let the child influence the decision.
So, perhaps the party with the most at stake in the case, "M", will have the last word on the matter.