Child custody, religious freedom

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Ben W, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. Ben W

    Ben W
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    Sep 16, 2002
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    Mennonite Weekly Review
    By Robert Rhodes

    MENOMONIE, Wis. — What might otherwise be a typical child-custody case involving the estranged parents of a 14-year-old girl has become complicated by the Amish faith and lifestyle of the girl and her mother.

    This has prompted an Amish advocacy group, which sees the case as a religious freedom matter, to become involved as the case makes its way through the courts.

    “For me the strongest issue here is that a 14-year-old’s views on religion must be considered,” said Herman Bontrager of New Holland, Pa., who works with the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom. “It was clear the judge has not given at all any credence to the girl’s wishes.”

    The facts of the matter are as complex as court cases involving the Amish are rare.

    Gineen Gove of Black River Falls, who joined the Old Order Amish with her husband, Eric, several years ago, is at odds with her daughter’s biological father, Aaron Petty of Minneapolis, who wants the girl to join him in the Twin Cities and attend high school.

    Gove and Petty were never married, and the girl has lived much of her life among the Amish with her mother and stepfather, with Petty having regular visitation. Until January, when the case was initiated by Petty, Gineen Gove had sole custody of her daughter, who is not being named in news accounts because she is a minor.

    The girl has stated in court that she wants to remain with her mother and continue to live and worship like other Amish teens.

    But in August, a Wisconsin judge ruled the girl must go to live with her father in Minneapolis, news which apparently prompted the teen to run away from home. Gineen Gove, meanwhile, was jailed for five days last summer for contempt after she failed to bring the girl, whose whereabouts remain unknown, to court to be handed over to Petty.

  2. Daisy

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    Apr 1, 2003
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    The girl's wishes should be given more respect by the court.

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