Montgomery County, PA Child Custody and Religious Beliefs Lawyers
Who Gets to Decide a Child’s Religious Upbringing?
Whenever two people who have a child together decide to go their separate ways, there are a number of issues that must be worked out. While custody and support are generally the main concerns, for those who are devout in their faith, the child’s religious upbringing may be another contentious subject that requires extensive discussion. Religious beliefs become a hot topic in child custody cases when one parent’s faith varies from the others. When both parents want their respective religions taking precedence in a child’s life, there is a potential for it to become a court matter in an effort to keep children from getting caught in the middle of clashing viewpoints as much as possible.
The laws on child custody and religious beliefs vary from state to state, and the question of which religion a child should follow is not an easy one to answer. This is a particularly sensitive and complex dispute that requires the assistance of a Montgomery County child custody lawyer.
The Court vs. Freedom of Religion
In the event that religious beliefs is a matter brought before the court during a custody hearing, the family law judge must be able to objectively make a decision without taking the specific religions into consideration. Because it is the parents’ First Amendment right to exercise their freedom of religion and raise their child with whatever faith they choose, a custody ruling cannot be made based on what religion a parent practices but rather how this will affect the child. This means the court must be steadfast in their duty to uphold the best interest of the child. To do this, they apply one of three legal standards, which include actual or substantial harm, risk of harm, or no harm required.
Pennsylvania Law Regarding Child Custody and Religion
Under Pennsylvania law, judges will use the risk of harm standard to determine child custody cases where there is controversy over religious beliefs. This means that a court can decide it is in the best interests of the child to infringe on a parent’s First Amendment right if there is evidence to suggest that their faith and religious activities have the ability to possibly harm the child in the future. When making their ruling, the judge will review how a religion might impact the child’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Parenting Agreements on Religious Preferences
It is typically the preference of the courts for parents to develop a parenting plan that addresses an agreement on religious beliefs. If an agreement can be made there is no reason for a family law judge to intervene. However, if a parent wishes to challenge an arrangement that was previously made, there is a good chance the court won’t enforce it under new circumstances. They will look at how vague the terms of the agreement are, how old it is, and whether or not it was written or oral.
Pennsylvania Legal Professionals Handling Child Custody and Religious Beliefs
Parents who are facing a complicated custody battle with concerns over their child’s future faith practices should seek the counsel of an experienced Montgomery County child custody and religious beliefs lawyer. The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C.understand how important it is to some parents that their children be raised following the same beliefs. Our attorneys respect the opinions that each of our clients hold regarding religion and will take your case seriously if you speculate your child is at risk of being harmed by the other parent’s religious traditions. Give our office a call at (610) 645-0100 so we can make an appointment to discuss your situation.