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How is a child's religion determined after divorce?


When Minnesota couples with children divorce, there are often many custody issues to consider. One of these issues is religion. When a couple is not religious or shares the same religion, then this may not be a problem. However, many couples nowadays are interfaith and either choose which religion they want their children to practice or intertwine aspects of both religions. When the couple decides to divorce, what do the children do?

More often than not, the courts are the ones who have to make the decision. This is a tough question to answer because there is no standard answer. The courts are not involved in the child's upbringing, and therefore, must decide based on the best interests of the child, which may conflict with the rights of the parents. It is not uncommon for one parent to argue that the other parent's religion will harm the child. If there are no state laws in place, then the court will often decide based on the standard of harm. Minnesota currently does not have any laws in place regarding child custody and religion.

This means that the court must determine if raising a child within a certain religion will cause any physical or emotional injuries. The court must look at all the religious activities involved and use good judgment. If there is no recognizable harm, then the default is to let the parent with custody decide the religion of the child.

It is always best for both parents to work together and find a common ground so that the children do not have to feel pulled in various directions or forced to follow a religion they don't believe in. However, a common ground cannot always be achieved and when the court decides, not everyone wins.

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce: Child Custody and Religion," accessed Jan. 18, 2015

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