Divorced father must take children to mass as part of contact order

By Lenore Rice

A child contact order issued by a judge following a divorce case requires the father to take his kids to mass when he has custody of them, even though he is not Catholic.

Judge James Orrell told the divorced father that he could be given a jail sentence for contempt of court if he does not comply with the conditions of his custody order, which states that he must take the children to Christmas mass if he has custody of them at that time. The father is a 51-year-old psychologist, and says he is "definitely not Catholic" and that his oldest son has "expressed a clear lack of belief".

The custody order was imposed in 2009 and several legal challenges have since failed. The father contends that it is a breach of his human rights to freedom of religion, but that view has been rejected by the High Court. The condition was not imposed on the childrens' mother, who is Catholic, and the father considers the condition to be "bizarre" as his ex-wife had not requested it.

If you require legal advice in respect of a divorce in Northern Ireland, including issues relating to child custody and contact, contact one of the family law solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 1363.

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