The Chicago Family Law Blog

Judge: Child of Divorced Parents Can Go To Church, Dad Objects

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A judge ruled that a child of divorced parents can go to church over the father’s objections.

David Stone and Julie Stanfield, the divorced parents of a 9-year old Clarendon Hills boy, argued over whether their son could attend religious services with his mother, reports the Chicago Tribune.

According to the Tribune, Stone, who had main custody of the boy, objected to church attendance citing that it was causing a rift between him and his son. Stone is self-described as believing in God, but not affiliated with a religious organization.

Stone was also afraid that his young son's budding interest in science would be stifled by the church.

Stanfield, who had weekend visitation rights with her son, countered that their parenting agreement specifically allowed her to take their son to church.

The judge ruled for Stanfield and said that the mother could continue taking her son to church. The judge found that Stone failed to demonstrate any "specific harm" from their son's church attendance.

In a religious parenting dispute, a judge usually avoids making value judgments over whether a child of divorced parents can go to church. In other words, a judge will not determine whether a child is better off with, or without, religious training.

Instead, a judge will usually just look for any objective evidence of specific harm due to the child's attendance or non-attendance.

For example, if David Stone were able to show concrete evidence of his deteriorating relationship with his son due to church attendance, the judge may have found specific harm. However, the judge found Stone's proffered evidence "just speculation."

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