Friday, August 15, 2014

Child Custody And Religion (Again): What Should Happen When One Parent Converts?

We've got another child custody and religion case from New York, about, at least ostensibly,  what should happen when one parent, but not the other, decides to "change horses mid-stream" in terms of the child's religious upbringing.  

A closer reading of the facts suggests that other facts played a much greater role in the decision than the religion issue did, and that the judge may have used the religion issue as a tie-breaker as between two fairly horrendous-sounding parents, to decide who was the "least bad" parent. 

The interesting question, when the hard facts are stripped away, however, is the extent to which a general presumption that "stability" is good for kids, (and good for kids of divorcing parents, and good for kids of high-conflict divorcing parents) should weigh against the right of parents, under the First Amendment, to change religions, if they want, as frequently as they change their socks.

 A (waterproof) hat tip to Doc Volokh at UCLA, with hopes that they get the campus dried back out before Fall Semester.

P.S.:  ...and this just in from Florida, again by way of Volokh:

a trial judge who restrained a Jehovah's Witness non-custodial father from doing "...anything in front of the children or around the children...” that “...conflicts with the Catholic religion...." (practiced by custodial mom) was reversed, the appeals court noting:  "While the mother’s concern that exposure to two different religions could confuse the children may be reasonable, neither that concern nor the evidence presented below established the requisite showing of harm to grant the mother ultimate religious decision-making authority for the children and to restrict the father..."

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