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How the Divorce & Disputes over a childs religious upbringing happens How the Divorce & Disputes over a childs religious upbringing happens

Bronze medal Reporter Adv Stanlin Posted 25 Dec 2018 Read More News and Blogs
How the Divorce & Disputes over a childs religious upbringing happens

This time of year, even divorced parents who don't consider themselves particularly "religious" are giving additional thought to how they will have a good time their religious backgrounds with their children. When divorced parents may follow different faiths, this can be particularly problematical.

Many divorcing interfaith couples address their children's spiritual background and training as they negotiate their guardianship agreement and parenting plan. For example, if the parents are Christian and Jewish, will the children follow both religions'? Will they go to church or synagogue each week? Will they attend a religiously-affiliated school?

Even parents who were raised up in the same devotion may have dissimilar views about it as adults. One may be devout and want the children to be. The other may want to let their children decide for themselves when they're older what religion, if any, to tail, and not have that decision influenced by the other parent.

If the parents are not able to come to a conclusion about the religious upbringing of their children during the agreement if it converts an issue later, upbringing then the judge will have to decide. There are two basic principles in which damage to the child is weighed against parents' First Amendment right to decide their kids' religion. Often the standard applied be subject to on the individual state. Some states use more than one of these standards.

Harm Standards

Under the "risk of harm" standard, a judge won't limit a parent's right to raise a child in his or her religion unless it could harm the child. The burden of evidence to show potential harm is on the parent challenging the other's right to expose their child to their religious practices.

If the "actual " standard is applied, a parent's religion has to be shown to grounds the child‘s "actual or substantial" harm -- not just have the potential for harm. Many states use this standard.

Some states don't consider any potential or actual harm to a child. This is occasionally called the "no harm" standard. In these cases, the custodial parent chooses the child's religion -- even if the non-custodial parent objects.

Why Detailed Parenting Agreements is important

When there is a written parenting arrangement in place that addresses the issue of religion, judges will usually accept by that. There may be omissions if the agreement is old, the parents haven't been following it, it's unclear or it was merely an oral agreement. That's why it's essential for divorcing parents and their attorneys to address the issue of their children's religious upbringing in a detailed written parenting agreement if they believe it may be a source of encounter as they co-parent in the future.


A parenting plan is a written file that summaries how parents will raise their child after split-up or divorce. It is related to the legal terms such as "custody" and "access" used to refer to these arrangements. It can focus on defining parenting arrangements such as:

  • how choices about the child are made?
  • how info is shared between parents!
  • when each parent will spent time with the child?

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