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How Courts Address Religion in a Divorce

The religion of a parent or child could become a point of contention in divorce proceedings and could impact your child custody arrangement. In fact, religion is one of five different major stipulations that courts will address in a child custody arrangement, alongside residence, healthcare, education and recreation. 

The first step for the courts is to determine what the “status quo religion” is for the child. This is the religion that both parents chose for the child while they were married and still making joint decisions about how to raise the child. Neither parent has the ability to change this religion unless both parents agree on the decision after the divorce or the courts allow for the change to be made. 

If there was no religion chosen for the child while the parents were married, then the children’s status quo religion is “no religion,” in which case neither parent is allowed to choose a religion for the child or enroll them in any denomination’s religious education programs without the other parent’s consent. 

If the parents themselves change religion after the divorce, that is fine so long as they do not attempt to change their child’s religion as well. Parents are certainly allowed to tell children about their religion change and explain their new religion to their children, but unless they get approval from the other parent or from the courts, they are not allowed to officially make their children a part of that religion. Parents are also prohibited from speaking ill of their ex’s religion in front of their children so as to propagandize their child into supporting their side. 

If you have additional questions about how religion may impact a divorce, speak with a La Plata divorce attorney at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A. 

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