Christianity Today: Religious differences are making custody disputes even messier

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Legal experts agree that a student ordered to attend public school after a parental dispute over education does not represent religious persecution. But they also agree that religion and child custody are mixing in messy ways, and that current case law offers few guidelines for resolving such conflicts.

In mid-July, New Hampshire judge Lucinda Sadler ordered 10-year-old Amanda Kurowski into public instruction after her divorced parents—who share custody—disagreed over her homeschooling status. The case became a cause célèbre in conservative Christian circles because of Sadler's comments about the girl's "rigidity on faith" and how she "would be best served by exposure to different points of view."

One attorney observer said it is only one of many parental disputes that land in family courts, leading to a patchwork of disparate rulings.

"Parents today are penalized in custody proceedings for being too religious, not religious enough, or for belonging to an unpopular religious sect," Joshua Press wrote in a 2009 Indiana Law Journal article. "The current situation with religion in custody disputes cries out for the [U.S. Supreme] Court to intervene."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture

Posted October 27, 2009 at 6:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

The only way I ever see that being a Supreme Court case is if there is a scenario when a judge orders a child from a broken family of that sort to go to a religious school against his or her personal wishes and it becomes a possible freedom of religion issue.

But even then, the Supremes are loathe to get involved in custody deputes because each individual case has so many different factors that creating a broad precedent is almost impossible.

October 27, 8:55 pm | [comment link]
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