A recent ruling of the Massachusetts Appeals Court amends a divorce judgment to allow the mother to provide religious education to the children of the marriage. The mother had appealed the divorce judgment, arguing that the paragraph prohibiting her from providing Christian education to the children violated her constitutional rights.
After affirming that the objective of child custody arrangements is to serve the best interests of the children, the court determined that no harm would result from the provision of Christian instruction to the children (in addition to the education provided by the father in the Jewish tradition). Accordingly, the court ordered that the divorce judgment be modified to remove the restriction.
Mother successfully appeals divorce judgment's restriction on her religious education of children
As the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruling indicates, the divorce judgment in Lapat v. Lapat affirmed that the children would "continue to be raised primarily in the Jewish tradition" of the father. The judgment also stated that the mother could bring the children to church but that she "may not enroll them in any form of Christian education."
The mother appealed this prohibition, claiming that it violated her constitutionally protected freedom to practice her religion and to bring up her children in that religion.
After explaining that all custody arrangements should serve the best interests of the children, the court assessed the possibility of "substantial" harm to the children occurring if Christian education were provided by the mother (in addition to the education provided by the father in the Jewish tradition). It found no evidence that such harm would occur. Therefore the court ordered that the divorce judgment be modified to remove the restriction.
Religious education of children after divorce requires flexibility and accommodation
A div in the Huffington Post points out that the religious education of the children is one of the most contentious areas of discussion for divorcing spouses. Yet most of the issues that arise can be satisfactorily resolved, if both parties show flexibility and are willing to make accommodations.
For instance, when the religious holidays corresponding to one parent's faith happen to fall on days that the child is scheduled to spend with the other parent, it is advisable that both parents make adjustments to allow the child to celebrate the holidays with the parent practicing that religion.
Any parent dealing with child custody issues should engage an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer with relevant expertise will offer valuable advice and will - where necessary - provide effective representation in court proceedings.