Child Custody and Religion


I recently represented a Father in a contested child custody case where the primary issue in dispute was the religion of the parents. The Mother argued that because Father’s religion was so doctrinally different from hers, the child would be “harmed” by being exposed to the two conflicting religions. Therefore, the Mother also argued that she should have sole custody, and that Father should have no parenting time on Sundays, because this was the only way, as she supposed, to assure that the child would not be exposed to Father’s religion.

I argued on behalf of Father that the court not only should not do as she was requesting, but that it could not enter custody orders which would have the effect of favoring or discriminating against a particular form of religion, for to do so would violate the First Amendment of our U.S. Constitution. I also argued that there was no showing that Father’s religion was contrary to the best interests of the child. The court agreed with Father’s position, and entered a joint custody order, allowing both parents to take the children to the church of their choice.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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