You are free to make your own religious choices and determine what is best for your children. In fact, the First Amendment protects your right to raise your children under the religion of your choice. Unfortunately that can become difficult when co-parenting with someone of another faith. You may disagree with how your ex wants to raise the kids or they may dispute your choices.
Religious disagreement among parents can have a negative impact on children. It may disrupt consistency that is so important for children after divorce. It is also stressful to deal with discord among parents. Conflict of religion can be settled in a child custody case. The New York state court will consider several topics when resolving religious child custody disputes.
How are religious child custody disputes settled in court?
The court will weigh what is in your best interest and the children's best interest to solve a child custody dispute. Again, maintaining consistency in a child’s life is important for their wellbeing. Therefore, the court will subject minimal disruption to your children's lives, as long as a parent’s actions are not harmful.
For example, let’s say your children were raised Catholic their entire lives. You take them to church every Sunday and they attend a private Christian school. While negotiating a divorce your ex suddenly pulls the children out of private school and refuses to take them to church on Sundays.
The New York court could determine that these actions are harmful to the children. Typically the court will not restrict a parent’s ability to raise their child as a particular faith. However, the court could restrict the parent’s First Amendment right to raise them under a specific religion (or lack thereof) if their actions cause harm.
A solution in court may be to appoint one parent with primary custody. The parent who supports consistency in their child’s upbringing may be awarded primary custody. This is just one possible resolution. There are other solutions to religious conflict both in and out of court.
Can this issue be resolved without going to court?
Working together with an argumentative ex is frustrating. While it may be difficult, it is not always impossible. Cooperating to create a parenting agreement can cause the most beneficial outcome for both parties. You can work with an attorney to create a parenting plan that dictates the religious upbringing of your children in a way that satisfies both parties. This solution may also shield your children from conflict in the future. If you are past the point of cooperation then you may consider settling your child custody dispute in court with a family law attorney.