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The role of religion in child custody

| Apr 3, 2020 | Child Custody

If you are getting a divorce from your child’s other parent and the two of you do not share the same religious persuasion, it can create some challenges.

For instance, maybe you have never given much thought to religion and don’t follow any at all. But your soon-to-be ex-spouse may be a born-again evangelical Christian who wants to bring your daughter up in their church.

Suddenly, you must decide whether you will accede to their demands that your child be indoctrinated into a religion in which you are decidedly uninvested. It could become a real problem.

Alternatively, you may be a practicing Jew who married a Buddhist. Will your daughter prepare for her bat mitzvah or chant in front of a gohonzon?

Ideally, the two parents will be able to reach accord on these religious matters. But if that is not the case, it will be left up to the courts to decide. How do they reach their decision?

The best interests of the child is always the guiding principle in child custody matters. If your child is old enough to express a preference, the judge may ask them which religion they prefer to follow. When the child is too young to have an opinion, they consider whether either religious persuasion could harm the child.

While that may seem quite unlikely, there are certain sects that practice snake handling as part of their religious rituals. That would definitely be considered a harmful practice for any child.

But most religious faiths do not endanger their followers’ lives to such a degree. Judges may lean toward the religion in which the child has thus far been raised in some cases. But you and your family law attorney can certainly argue that you prefer for your child to make that determination when the reach maturity.

There is no hard and fast rules regarding your child and their religious upbringing. If this is a major concern to you, work with your attorney to build a compelling argument to support your position.