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How Child Custody Works When Different Religions are Involved

By Jeffrey M. Salassa

child looking at paper dolls from the perspective of a Clinton Township child custody attorney

Many modern marriages end in divorce. First marriages that end in divorce usually last about eight years, with 60% of second marriages and 70-73% of third marriages also eventually ending in divorce.

Marriages end for a number of reasons, and, though the union itself is terminated, lingering feelings of resentment and anger may remain thereafter, especially if a child is involved. One of the major points of contention for parties, post-divorce, is religion. More specifically, if, and how, the child should be raised in a certain religion.

When there is a disagreement about religious upbringing, it is important to have a child custody attorney, family law attorney or divorce lawyer on your side, as the laws surrounding choice of religion for children are complex and murky. Child custody attorneys across the country have attempted to set a precedent for what to do when one parent’s freedom of choice of religion conflicts with what the other parent believe is in the child’s best interests, but the results have been inconsistent.

When child custody attorneys or divorce attorneys raise the issue of the religious upbringing of a child, the courts attempt to balance the concerns of both parties to arrive at a resolution that is best for all involved, especially the child. Courts are required to protect a parent’s freedom of religion under the First Amendment while simultaneously ensuring that the best interests of the minor child are protected and that the other parent’s right to raise their child as they see fit is not jeopardized. This becomes especially difficult if one parent alleges that the child is endangered by the other parent’s religious involvement/activities.

Generally a Court will issue a ruling based on the alleged levels of harm. If actual or substantial harm from religious activities can be proven, a parent’s rights will be restricted. Additionally, even if there is only a future risk of harm, Courts may also restrict certain rights. However, in cases where it’s determined that there is no current harm, or risk of future harm, Courts will likely defer to the decisions and religious preferences of the custodial parent.

If you believe that you may have an issue with the religious upbringing of your child post-divorce, talk to the experienced child custody lawyers and attorneys at Iafrate & Salassa, P.C.

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