Today’s skyrocketing divorce rates have seen many more couples of different religious faiths decide to end their marriage. However, those who remain strong and adamant about their faith often insist on their children being raised according to their religious views. When two people who feel this same way get a divorce, it can lead to a rather heated battle to determine how the children will be raised.
Unfortunately, the law is not all that clear in regards to how this is settled through the courts system. Numerous previous court decisions have all set precedents using different standards, leading to an often hodgepodge mess of results as rules.
The first thing the court will consider in each case is any concerns each parent has regarding the upbringing of their child in their ex’s religion, while still allowing both spouses to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech and free practice of their religion. If one parent expresses concern about the other’s religious activities impacting the well-being of their child, the court then has to make the difficult decision whether or not to encroach the other parent’s rights. They do have this power, but it is exceedingly rare that they use it.
In most cases, the courts will use one of three standards when determining whether or not a parent’s religious activities are in any way “harmful” to a child. In instances where the activities cause actual or substantial harm, the court will not hesitate to restrict the First Amendment rights, but only in these cases. For example, if one parent’s religious activities involve physically hurting their child, such as cutting them to make them bleed, then the court will likely restrict their rights.
Other times, the court may choose to restrict a parent’s First Amendment rights when religious practices place the child at risk of harm. In these cases, no harm actually needs to happen to the child, just the mere indication that it may happen is enough to cause the courts to take action.
Finally, some cases will simply refer to the custodial parent when it comes to religious upbringing. In these instances the courts will immediately refer to the wishes of the parent awarded legal custody. If they do not agree with the other parent’s religious activities, regardless of whether or not they place the child at risk of any harm, the court will intervene.
If you have any questions regarding religious upbringing or another family law matter, speak with a Charlotte family lawyer from Krusch & Sellers, P.A. Our attorneys can provide you with high-quality, reputable legal counsel throughout every step of your divorce process. We understand the importance of child custody and the ability to make decisions in your child’s upbringing can be, and we work hard to help you maintain your rights as a parent and stay involved in your children’s lives. A divorce can be a complex and strenuous affair, and our attorneys work hard to provide your case with individualized attention and communication availability when you need us most.Call Krusch & Sellers, P.A. today at 704.343.8811 to request a consultation for your family law matter.