On behalf of Joseph R. Schmitz of Schmitz Law, P.C. posted Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Religious beliefs are a major part of many people’s lives. Whether you were raised in a particular religion or converted to a new faith as an adult, you probably want to share that faith with your family, especially your children.

Quite a few people are able to overlook religious differences with their loved ones. Some people even marry outside their religion without issue. However, if you and your spouse share children, have different religions, and plan to get divorced, the discrepancy in your belief systems could soon demand a closer consideration as part of your child custody proceedings.

Are your faiths close enough to each other to work together?

If you are a Unitarian and your spouse is Anglican, the chances are good that you can make your religious differences a non-issue, since you will celebrate the same basic holidays and have the same underlying philosophies despite some differences between the faiths.

Are your faiths close enough to each other to work together?

However, in cases where one parent is Christian the other is an atheist, a Pagan a Muslim or where there is some other kind of significant discrepancy in both practice and belief structure, it may be hard for you to reach common ground regarding how you teach your children about faith and what religious practices they observe.

Asking for legal custody gives you the right to make religious decisions

Many parents who want shared custody with their ex focus almost exclusively on physical custody, which involves time spent with the children. Having time with your children is important, but just seeing them every other week may not be enough when it comes to the requirements of your faith, as they could miss services or important holy days.

The courts typically also divide up legal custody in a divorce, although parents are less likely to seek it out specifically. Legal custody relates to parents’ ability to make decisions on behalf of their children. Those decisions range from educational decisions to religious ones.

If you want to have a say in the religious practices of your child, securing sole or  joint legal custody will be an important part of the divorce process for you. That way, you can have a say in what religious education your children receive and what faith they observe.

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