Kalinoski Law Offices P.C.
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The role of religion in divorce and child custody matters

Interfaith marriages are becoming increasingly common in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, 39 percent of Americans who have gotten married since 2010 have a spouse in a different religious group. Therefore, spouses of different religions who are undergoing divorce in Pennsylvania may have differing views when it comes to which religion their children will practice.

In Pennslyvania, a child's religion is generally not decided by the court. The state code cites that religion is considered a legal custody issue, which means that as long as both parents share legal custody, they can each raise the child in their particular faith. Sometimes, however, problems arise during or post-divorce when one parent wants to change an existing agreement or one of the parents converts to a new religion.

An exception to the rule does exist. In instances where a parent's religion would cause some type of physical or emotional harm, or would somehow be detrimental to the child, the matter may very well end up in court. In Pennsylvania, the standard is risk of harm, meaning the harm doesn't actually have to occur for a court to intervene. Merely the risk of it happening is enough.

In general, it will usually be best for the child if the parents agree beforehand on how religion will impact the child's life and any special terms should be set forth in their parenting agreement. The parties may also want to pursue mediation in order to come up with a solution before seeking intervention by the court.

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108 North Washington Ave, Suite 604
Scranton, PA 18503

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