Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law
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Parent's rights vs judge's orders: who comes out on top?


In any custody or support case involving children there is one over-arching legal theory that is always applied. Where the case is about one parent seeking sole custody or a step-parent seeking to adopt their step-child courts will always looking to what is in the best interest of the child even when that goes against a parent's inherit right to raise their child.

A Utah mother is now able to speak with her children about religion again after fighting a judge's order barring her from speaking about religion, politics or any faith other than the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. After hearing arguments that the order violated the mother's constitutional rights the restriction was changed to allow age-appropriate conversations about faith. The order comes in the midst of the 33-year-old woman's divorce and battle for custody.

In law there are times when a balancing test must be done and someone's rights violated for the benefit of another. This is routinely true in cases involving children. Courts can prohibit parents from disciplining their children, spending certain money, and even speaking about certain topics if they deem it in the best interest of the child. But even still the court's authority to make these types of orders isn't limitless.

A judge only has as much authority as the law allows. And built into the law is a system of checks and balances. Often times one may ask a judge to reconsider their order, if that proves unsuccessful a party may seek to appeal a judge's order to a higher court.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune,"Religion, polygamy at heart of Utah couple's divorce and custody dispute," Jennifer Dobner, Dec. 10, 2014

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