Who decides a Child's religion in a Child Custody case if the Parents don't have the same beliefs?
Updated: Feb 14
It doesn’t happen often, but at times there is a dispute between parents about who will decide a Child’s religious upbringing. Religion is a sensitive topic and, frankly, judges are likely to stay out of it. What they will do, if there is not an Agreement between the Parents, is award one parent or the Other the right to make such decisions which the Other Parent will then be bound to respect subject to contempt of Court.
In Alabama, religious decision-making is an aspect of Legal Custody. As opposed to Physical Custody, which determines which Parent has care and control of the Child for more or less the same amount of time, Legal Custody focuses on decision-making and access to information.
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A sole legal custodian can make all decisions for a Child, or joint legal custodians can each make any decision for the Child. The problem comes when two joint legal custodians don’t have ultimate authority and someone needs to be able to break the tie.
Luckily, the Alabama Code and a thoughtful, experienced Child Custody lawyer can ensure that either your Custody Agreement or your Child Custody order address which parent has the ultimate authority to make certain decisions for a Child.
Different kinds of decisions can even be assigned to different Parents. In this case, a Mother might be awarded the ultimate authority on a Child’s religious upbringing whereas a Father might be awarded ultimate decision-making authority regarding the Child’s extracurricular activities.
If the case goes to trial, a judge will determine what is in the child's best interests. If the parents have different religious beliefs, the judge may consider the child's preference, their relationship with each parent, the religious practices of each parent, and the impact of any religious changes on the child's overall well-being. However, the final decision on legal custody, and thus, who gets to make the ultimate decision, whether regarding the Child’s religious upbringing or otherwise will vary based on the specific circumstances of each case.
If you would like to learn more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can stand up for yourself and be more effective in your Child Custody, Divorce, DHR or Adoption case, will you CLICK HERE to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices?
This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. ~SW, Foxtrot