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Choice of Religion & Child Custody

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, federal, and state law, limit Courts from making orders that obstruct a parent‘s right to observe and discuss their religious tenets.  In proceedings for child custody, the Court is often asked to make orders pertaining to the child‘s religious heritage and input, when making orders that should be determined by the best interest standards.  The reoccurring issue is the balancing act between considering religious heritage and preference with issuing orders that prohibit or permit religious ceremony.

The United States Supreme Court held that government intrusion into the parents’ fundamental right to raise children in a particular faith violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  A parent‘s religious beliefs alone do not render the parent unfit and parents may be allowed to expose children to different faiths.

Before a Court interferes with a parent‘s right to religious expression, there must be a showing of a substantial harm to the child, which must extend beyond confusion about faith.  However, the Court may deny the non-custodial parent‘s attempt to litigate or enforce religious freedom rights where that parent does not have custody of the child.  Therefore, obtaining an order for custody of your child is very important and the first step in retaining input into your child’s life.

During child custody proceedings, the Court must balance the confusion of the child against the sanctity of the right of freedom of religious choice, while the law protects expressions of religious views even while in conflict with a child who is exposed to parental conflicts regarding their personal faith.

If you have concerns about your child custody or child visitation orders and how they pertain to your rights regarding the religion influence your child may be exposed, the Law Office of Heath L. Baker will help you.  Please contact us at (951) 222-2228, or at our website: www.heathbakerlaw.com.  We would love to talk to you in person and discuss the family law issues that are important to you.