Divorce and Religion

November 29, 2016 | Divorce, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Joseph Williams Joseph Williams

Getting divorced is difficult and complicated even when both partners agree on nearly everything. The emotional toll can be overwhelming for one or both former partners during and after the divorce process or even for several years after. The journey can become even more difficult to navigate when two parents have different religious backgrounds and beliefs.

What happens when one parent celebrates Hanukkah and the other celebrates Christmas? Or what if one parent does not practice a religion but the other parent wants their child to attend a Hindu temple? Experienced Pittsburgh divorce mediation attorneys can help you identify the religious expectations that you have for your children and determine a strategy that protects your family.

Children and Religion

For a happily married couple, the issue of religion as it relates to childrearing is typically discussed in private, perhaps with extended family members, with one or both parents taking a child to church, temple or other religious service.  But when a couple is in the middle of a divorce and the two adults do not agree on religious practices, it can result in a rather heated debate.

In Pennsylvania, the case of Zummo v. Zummo involved two parties who practiced different religions: the husband was Catholic and the wife was Jewish.  Before the couple married, they decided to raise their children in the Jewish faith.  After the parties separated, however, the dad refused to take the children to Saturday services and Sunday school for Bar Mitzvah training, wanting to take the children instead to Catholic church services.

Because mom did not agree with the children attending church services, the couple found themselves in a lengthy legal battle that ended when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that the dad’s constitutional rights were violated because he was prevented from taking the children to church services during his parenting time.  More specifically, the Supreme Court found that both parents have the right to instill religious beliefs in their children.

It is not always easy to apply legal cases to your individual situation, but a divorce mediation attorney can assist and explain both the Zummo case, as well as any others that are important for your family.

Navigating Religious Issues After Divorce

So how does a divorcing couple navigate the issues of religion, children and divorce?  Some couples can agree on their children’s religious upbringing, but if you are one of the many families who are not in agreement, mediation may create a path toward resolution. An attorney can review your case and determine if mediation is appropriate for your case and your family.

If you are contemplating divorce or have already filed, it is important to speak with a skilled lawyer regarding your religious practices, as well as those of your spouse. It is never too early to discuss how the children will be raised and the attorneys at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, are ready to review your religious concerns and how your goals can be reached through divorce mediation.  Call today at (412) 471-9000 to speak to one of our lawyers or use our online contact form.

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