Child Custody and Religious Beliefs
Anytime parents are divided, children are put in the middle, regardless of the intentions of the parents. And when the division revolves around matters of child custody and religious beliefs, it is essential that the parties understand what the law does and does not allow. A top-tier San Diego area family law attorney at The Law Office of Thomas M. Huguenor can help you navigate these complex issues.
Child Custody Basics
Leaving questions of religious beliefs aside for the moment, it is helpful to understand the basic concepts of child custody. In a situation where parents are separated or divorcing, ideally, they will be able to work together to reach an agreement on how the child will spend his or her time with both parents as well as all other matters. Of course, not every situation is ideal.
When parents disagree, the court can intervene and award either legal or physical custody of the child to one parent or the other. This is when the court investigates the circumstances of the family to make a decision that is in the best interests of the child.
Physical custody has to do with where the child will primarily physically reside or spend the majority of his or her time. This type of custody can be awarded either jointly, where the parents share equally, or solely to one parent or the other.
Legal custody, however, is an entirely different matter. This concept reflects the stark reality and responsibility of parenting a minor child and defines the roles of the parents. Again, legal responsibility can be awarded jointly or solely. This means that the parents can equally share the decision-making, or that one or the other can be primarily responsible. And the adoption of religious practices falls within this concept of legal custody.
Because of the separation of church and state, there is a fine line for the court in handling religious differences of parents in a custody dispute. The parents, of course, have their individual First Amendment rights to the free exercise of their religion, while the court’s job is to act in the best interests of the child.
California follows the standard that a parent’s right to raise their child under their religious beliefs will only be imposed upon if that right creates an actual or substantial harm to the child. Simple exposure to multiple religions does not, in and of itself, rise to that level but engaging in religious acts that might cause harm could be considered by the court.
Finding the Right Legal Professional
When you are dealing with complex legal questions involving child custody and/or religious beliefs, you want to know that the attorney you are hiring has a strong reputation.
The Law Office of Thomas M. Huguenor has a 35-year track record and has earned accolades from multiple sources including being named a “Top Lawyer” by San Diego Magazine, a Featured Attorney on SuperLawyers®, an AVVO Rating of 10.0 Superb, a 5/5 Rating by Lawyers.com, and an “AV” Rating by Martindale-Hubbell.
As a Certified Specialist in Family Law since 1981, The Law Office of Thomas M. Huguenor is ready to put experience to work for you. Contact a San Diego religious beliefs in child custody attorney at (858) 458-9500 today if you need help with your child custody situation.