It's the season of holidays, but newly-divorced parents are in the midst of a battle about their child's future. While joint physical custody seems like a certainly, the former couple cannot agree on spiritual issues. Momma is Orthodox Jewish from Brooklyn and Poppa is a born-again Christian from Texas. Though their lawyers are pretty sure that this is merely an excuse to fight, neither side is willing to budge.
That means the holidays won't be very happy. The solution is either more time in court or a compromise between the parents.
The legal solution to the problem often is for the court to grant sole legal custody to one of the parties. The holder of legal custody has the power to determine the child’s religion, school, and medical decisions. Though joint legal custody is the norm in most cases, if parents can't come to an agreement, one of the solutions for the court might be to end the deadlock by granting the power to only one parent, usually the parent with a larger share of physical custody.
The other, and better, solution is for the parents to come to a compromise. For example, Chanukah starts this Saturday. It continues for eight days. Christmas, as always, is on December 25. The obvious compromise is for the child to be with one parent during Chanukah and the other during Christmas. Raise the child with both religions until the child is old enough to decide for herself.
While the choice of a child's religion is extremely important to many parents, exposure to others' religions doesn't guarantee that they will be destined for eternal damnation, or even confusion. Instead, it might just breed an attitude of tolerance and multiculturalism.
- Consult a Chicago Family Law Attorney (FindLaw
- Legal Custody and Choosing Your Child's School (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)
- More Lessons From TomKat: Child Custody and Religious Disputes? (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)
- 3 Common Child-Custody Holiday Disputes (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)