Three Factors That The Court May Use To Determine A Child’s Religion If Parents Divorce

If you fail to agree on your child's religion during a divorce, it will be up to the court to make the decision for you just as it will for other issues. The court doesn't have the power to impose a certain religion on a child. However, it will make its decision based on different factors, such as:

The Age of the child

If the child is old enough, then the court may let them choose their religion. This is because the constitution grants religious freedom to every American. Parents only get to choose their children's religion if the child is a minor who has no understanding of religion yet. The problem with this approach is that there isn't a specific age that guarantees the court will let your child choose their religion. It is up to the court to evaluate the maturity of the child and make a decision one way or the other. However, courts tend to take into consideration views of children over the age of 12.

The Custody Arrangement

If the child is too young to make a decision, then the custody arrangement comes into play. As a rule, the parent who has legal custody of a child gets to make important decisions, such as those touching on medical or education issues. Therefore, it isn't a stretch to let this parent make religious choices for their child too. Of course, this only applies if one parent has sole legal custody of the child.

The Child's Religion During Marriage

During custody decisions, judges tend to favor maintaining the status quo as long as it doesn't pose harm to the child. Therefore, if the child was raised in a certain religion when you were married, then the judge is likely to rule in favor of the same religion. That arrangement presents the least disruption to the child's life. For example, if the mother wasn't religious and the father used to take the child to religious meetings, then the court may direct the parents to provide the child with access to the same religious meetings.

If the parents belonged to two different religions during the marriage, and they let the child participate in both, then the court may direct the parents to continue with the same arrangement. Courts have previously ruled that engaging in two different religions does no harm to a child.  

Are you worried about your child's religious upbringing after divorce? If that is the case, talk to a custody lawyer, like one at the Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC, to help you understand your legal rights in the matter.