Guiding religious matters is a balance act in divorce process

Divorce in and of itself tends to be a sensitive process. Even when it is just the two spouses involved, matters can be very personal and emotional. Arguments can ensue. Feelings can be hurt. When children are added to the family mix, things become more complex and often more emotional. Next, add religious views — particularly differing views — and a divorce can easily become more difficult and personal in terms of child custody arrangements.

As a country, we generally accept that individuals have a right to practice whatever religion they choose. A recent out-of-state child custody decision, however, is an example of a court having to take some control over the religious situation among two divorcing parents and their children.

A panel of judges directed the father involved in the child custody case to not discuss or parent based on his religious views. They justified this ruling because they determined the father had acted upon his religious ideas in a way that emotionally and mentally harmed his children.

While limiting a person from practicing his or her religion is a difficult decision for a court in the U.S. to make (as it should be), a family law decision must prioritize the well-being of children. Parental rights are also valuable and, therefore, important to protect. If the father can parent without leaning on his abusive, religion-motivated behaviors, both his rights as a father and the his children will have been protected.

Religion comes up in many divorce cases in Texas. This recent news story brings up the matter, and we will continue discussing how religion can be addressed in child custody matters in general. Check back soon to learn more about this sensitive family law issue.