The Chicago Family Law Blog

Child Custody Dispute Focuses On Son's Religious Upbringing

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Elina Margolina and Nelson Derbigny divorced in 2007 and are currently in trial to settle a custody dispute over their 8-year-old son in Cook County Circuit Court. Margolina, who is in her 30s, wants sole custody of their son and seeks to dissolve a previous joint custody agreement with her ex-husband.

Margolina became a devout Hasidic Jew after the divorce and wants to raise their son under the religion's traditions. She claims Derbigny's refusal to maintain a kosher home and guarantee that their son will wear a yarmulke to school will damage the 8-year-old's religious upbringing.

But Derbigny, 52, argued that he should get sole custody because Margolina's stringent expectations for the boy's religious upbringing are keeping Derbigny from being a part of their son's life.

Louis Kraus, the child’s psychiatrist, had initially recommended a joint parenting agreement in 2007 when the pair had agreed to raise their son under Jewish tradition. But an evaluation of the 8-year-old and discussions with the parents eventually revealed that Margolina and Nelson Derbigny had two very different ideas about what it meant to raise their child as a Jew.

Kraus said he was worried that the disagreement between the parents would cause their son anxiety problems and other behavioral issues. He testified and suggested that Elina Margolina should have sole custody “because of the high level of conflict.”

Courts usually consider multiple factors when deciding which parent will have custody over a child. Often times the main consideration is the child’s best interest, but that can sometimes be difficult to determine. To learn more about child custody, seek legal counsel from a Chicago family law attorney or visit the Related Resources links below for general information.

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