Navigating religious differences when sharing custody

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2021 | Child Custody

During the early stages of a romantic relationship, it’s easy to overlook big differences. Being from a different culture or religion than your partner can seem exciting and refreshing. However, when the two of you have children, the differences in your beliefs and cultures can start to strain your relationship.

If you do eventually divorce, your differing perspectives and faiths could be a major issue. Perhaps you are Greek Orthodox, and your spouse is Jewish. These are not just minor differences of theology but rather very different religious beliefs and practices. Who gets to decide what faith your children practice after your divorce?

Most couples have to share parental rights

When the courts have to create a parenting plan allocating authority and custody, they will focus on what is best for the children. Keeping both parents present and actively involved is a major priority. The courts are unlikely to rule on specific family concerns and will instead provide broad guidance.

For example, they may allocate shared decision-making authority to both parents. In some cases, they may give one parent the final authority to make a decision. In joints decision-making scenarios, both of you have a say in what ultimately occurs with your children. However, if one parent has final authority to make decisions, they may be the one who decides what faith the child practices.

The way your family handled religious concerns during the marriage can also impact what a judge believes is in the best interests of the children during a divorce.

Consider raising your child with exposure to both religions

Although it may mean twice as much time spent at religious services, your children may benefit from active participation in both faiths until they are old enough to decide for themselves. Parents might take the children to services when it is their weekend for parenting or even enroll the children in religious education courses to round out their secular education.

Provided that the holidays and services for your faith do not conflict with one another, the two of you may be able to balance your religions without conflict. A rule that requires alternating celebrations or church attendance between parents can also work for those who have overlap in their religious schedules.

Thinking ahead to big parenting decisions when you first file for divorce can help you better strategize for custody terms that support your values.