The complexity of religion in child custody decisions

In a recent blog post, we discussed a specific family law case involving child custody and religion. We said that we would take on the matter more generally, since we understand religion can become a common matter of concern in divorce cases.

Say, for example, a difference in religion and beliefs was a major cause of divorce. What do you do if religion is important to you with regards to raising your children but your ex has very different beliefs? Is there anything that you can do?

Religion in child custody cases in Texas is a complex matter. We know that can be a frustrating answer since religion is such a personal and important matter to many parents. You might want a solid, reassuring answer that you will be free to raise your child as you see fit. But even though you are the parent and feel you should have the say in the religious life of your kid, this is the United States of America, where courts will always fight to protect the First Amendment.

There are some instances, however, when a court can at least somewhat dictate the role or type of religion in a child’s life. The details of these kinds of matters can differ from state to state. Generally, however, if a court sees that a child is already invested in and identifies strongly with one religion, it can be in that child’s best interest to foster that specific religious identity.

In any family law matter involving children, the courts will always look at the same priority: protecting the best interests of the child. This can be from a physically safe perspective but also an emotional and mental perspective. If a child is a bit older and is healthily connected to a certain religion and religious community, a court might see deterring that connection due to the request of another parent as causing harm to that child and his or her stability.

You most likely would never want to hurt your child. Perhaps your concern regarding the religion their other parent practices and shares with your child is legitimate. Whatever the scenario, your concern about your child or children is important to a family law attorney and the courts if a child’s well-being is in jeopardy. Religious practices most definitely could be a positive or negative factor in a person’s overall well-being.