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Religious Disputes and Child Custody: Ask a Colorado Springs Family Lawyer

Sunday, 11 July 2010

blog-logoIn a Colorado divorce, parents are charged with the monumental task of dividing the time they spend with their children.  Parenting plans determine where the children will live, how often they will see the non-custodial parent, which holidays will be spent with which family, and much more.  As a Colorado Springs child custody lawyer, I have seen firsthand how contentious these issues can become, even after the documents are signed.  That’s why it is so important to include as much detail as possible in a parenting plan. 

Even when parents get along well, coming up with a comprehensive parenting plan that makes sense for everyone concerned can still be challenging. But when it comes to deciding on their children’s religious upbringing, it can easily turn into a battle. 

In a recent story published by the Chicago Tribune, a divorced couple reportedly brought their religious differences into the courtroom.  The father, who is Catholic, wants to baptize his son as an infant, but the Pentecostal mother objected because she believes that baptism is a profession of faith that can only be carried out when a child is much older.  As a result, the father tried to have a judge grant him permission to have the child baptized before any child custody agreements were made, but the mother insisted that the child custody agreement had to come first.  Needless to say, this is not the best use of the court’s time. 

The family law attorney for the father believes that conflicts concerning religion should be resolved outside of a courtroom, using divorce mediation.  Mediation is usually the best forum for any dispute of a personal matter, especially one like religion, which is not covered by child custody laws.  A new initiative was born as a result of this case, which will help parents resolve interfaith parenting issues without taking them into court.  While these are important issues to the parents involved, it is not uncommon for religious disputes to get blown out of proportion and fuel bitter child custody battles that do nothing but harm to the children. 

Some Colorado parents have taken steps to include language about the religious upbringing of their children within the content of their parenting plan.  While not always enforceable after the fact, it is a good idea to make these decisions early on and use them as a reference if a dispute should arise in the future.  A Colorado Springs child custody lawyer can help you draft a parenting plan that covers religious upbringing, as well as many other important details.

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