Which parent chooses the church that a child attends?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Custody |

Sharing parental rights and responsibilities is often one of the most challenging aspects of a breakup or divorce. Both adults have to make certain concessions regarding the time they spend with the children and the authority they have over their lives in most cases.

The Illinois family courts can approve arrangements set by the parents or can create an allocation judgment that divides parental rights and responsibilities between the parents. Even after going to family court, parents may find themselves embroiled in conflicts related to the upbringing of their children. For example, the parents might disagree about which church their children should attend.

Allocation judgments often address religion

Under Illinois state law, religious decisions are one of the types of parental authority that adults maintain over their children. It is standard for allocation judgments to include terms regarding a child’s religious observances.

Parents may agree to have the child learn about one faith or attend one specific church. The courts may award one parent priority decision-making related to religious matters in cases where one spouse has a deep connection to their faith. Both parents typically need to abide by that arrangement or prepare to go back to court to modify the allocation judgment.

There are gray areas in religious matters

Even if the parents have previously agreed to raise the children in one faith, the parent that belongs to a different religion can still expose their child to their faith. They could bring the children with them occasionally to services, especially when services relate to important family events.

Weddings and funerals are perfect examples. A judge typically does not consider it a violation of the religious terms set in an allocation judgment for one parent to attend special events with their children even if they occur at a religious facility.

However, taking the children to religious instruction or attending church regularly in a manner that contradicts the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities could lead to conflict. In scenarios where one parent has violated the rights of the other regarding religious observances, it might be necessary to take legal action. Going back to court could help parents either enforce an existing order or modify it to better suit the family’s needs.

Understanding the rules that apply to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities can help parents assert their rights. Parents often have to compromise regarding the upbringing of their children, especially if they follow different religions and live separately.