Religion, Child Custody, and Divorce

Religion, Child Custody, and Divorce

Whether your divorce or child custody case is in Howard County or elsewhere throughout the State of Maryland, you need to choose a highly experienced family law, divorce and custody attorney who understands how the religious beliefs-or non-beliefs-of parents can affect the outcome of a case.

The overwhelming majority of people in this country have religious beliefs. Far too often, religious beliefs can contribute to divorce. Here are a few ways that can happen:

1. Not talking about how to raise children when the parents are of differing religious beliefs

2. Your beliefs change over time

3. Your children’s faith structure is different from yours

4. One parent begins using religion-or lack of religion-as a “weapon” within the marriage

5. One or both parent’s religious beliefs are perceived to be on the “fringe,” whatever that means.

Religion and child custody are not supposed to mix, right? We all grew up with the concept of separation of church and state, after all.

Don’t believe it.

When a judge makes a decision about child custody, religious beliefs come up several different ways. Think about it.

1. If you are of differing religious faiths, you may celebrate different holidays. Think Christianity and Judaism for the classic issues created when Easter and Passover overlap, or when Christmas and Hanukkah overlap. So, either you and the other parent, or the judge, will have to weave together a schedule, taking all of those holidays into account.

2. When one parent has no religious beliefs and the other parent does, your divorce attorney had better have a pulse on the judge’s beliefs, because many judges will not want to place children in the care of a parent with no core religious beliefs.

3. When the religious beliefs of a parent do not meet the approval of a judge, that can make matters even worse. Many religious entities have beliefs that are not approved of as “mainstream,” whatever that means. I have heard testimony in Court by a parent, who believes in praying and exposing a child to specific prayer to “exorcise the devil out of the child,” or a parent telling his or her own child they are “going to hell” because they are either gay, sexually active or for some other reason that parent does not approve of.

There are obviously many more examples.

The conversation is important for you to bring up to your divorce and/or custody attorney. It is not an issue you ever want to be on the defensive over.

At SIEGELLAW, we believe it is incredibly important to learn all of the facts from you so that we can provide you with a proper education and all of your options.